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Karl-Anthony Towns Erupts for 42 Points, 17 Rebounds as T-Wolves Fall to Pacers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 28:  Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 28, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-115 on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

With the win, the Pacers improve to 9-7 since Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending knee injury Jan. 23.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 37 points for Indiana while adding seven rebounds and four assists. Wesley Matthews, who has helped fill the void left by Oladipo in the backcourt, scored 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Karl-Anthony Towns finished with a season-high 42 points and 17 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins scored 11 points in the loss.

      

Bojan Bogdanovic Offering Pacers a Silver Lining Post-Oladipo Injury

Losing Oladipo hurt Indiana's chances of reaching the NBA Finals, a quest that would've been difficult enough if he had been healthy.

The Pacers still have plenty to play for, though, as evidenced by the fact they remain third in the Eastern Conference. At the very least, an appearance in the second round of the playoffs is attainable, which wouldn't be bad given the circumstances.

Oladipo's injury has also forced Bogdanovic to assume a larger role for Indiana, and he's delivering in a big way.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Season high 37 pts. for Bojan Bogdanovic tonight. Since the Victor Oladipo injury, Bogdanovic has averaged 21.2 pts. (51.5% from the field and 40.8% from 3). The forward will be an unrestricted FA this summer and a big reason why the Pacers have stayed afloat the past month.

Bogdanovic took advantage of his matchup Thursday night to toast Wiggins on defense—both with his drives to the basket and his movement off the ball. He also shot 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The general problem for the Pacers is that they can't exactly attract marquee players to come to Indiana. The team has $48.8 million in practical salary-cap space, per Spotrac, but will struggle to sign a max-level free agent. Plus, team president Kevin Pritchard will want to use some of that to re-sign Bogdanovic, who's an unrestricted free agent.

That makes it really hard for the Pacers to go from being very good to a true title contender.

Bogdanovic can help raise Indiana's ceiling slightly, though, if his last month represents the kind of breakthrough that carries into next season.

      

Dominant KAT Gives Timberwolves Slim Hope of Upsetting Long Playoff Odds

At 29-33, the Timberwolves are now 4.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference. Prior to the defeat, they only had a 2.8 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to ESPN.com's NBA BPI Playoff Odds.

When Towns is playing like this, however, Minnesota can't be written off entirely as a playoff threat. He did a little bit of everything on offense Thursday. He shot 15-of-29 from the field, 3-of-8 from beyond the arc and 9-of-13 from the charity stripe.

Towns was clearly not himself to start the year as the Timberwolves dealt with the drama surrounding Jimmy Butler's trade request. Because of Towns' slow start, some fans have likely missed how his performance has steadily improved.

Adam Fromal @fromal09

Karl-Anthony Towns has followed a similar path during every season of his career (and his rise in 2018-19 will only continue after tonight's 42-point, 17-rebound, 4-assist outing). Each year, he starts off slow and then starts dominating more as the year progresses. https://t.co/byQ4YXuTu7

Minnesota plays the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, which will be a difficult game. But the Timberwolves also play the Washington Wizards twice, the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks over the next 10 days.

That stretch offers them an opportunity to potentially make up some ground on the Clippers.

Most likely, Minnesota will miss the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons. The door isn't completely closed, which leaves Towns the chance to put the team on his back and achieve the improbable.

      

What's Next?

The Pacers host the Orlando Magic on Saturday, with the two teams having split their previous two meetings. The Timberwolves close out their three-game road trip with a matchup Sunday against the Washington Wizards.

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