How in the world could the Indiana Pacers lose at home to one of the NBA’s worst teams Tuesday night?
Mo Williams, that’s how.
The point guard scored a franchise-record, career-high 52 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a 15-game losing streak with a 110-101 road victory over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Williams hit 19-of-33 shots, including 6-of-11 3-pointers, as the Pacers were unable to defend him, especially in the final quarter. The 12th-year pro scored 21 points in the last 12 minutes.
"I'm just tired of losing," Williams said, in an interview televised on Fox Sports North.
The Timberwolves bumped their record to 6-31. Only the New York Knicks (5-35) have fewer wins.
"He was in a ridiculous zone," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, in quotes reported on pacers.com. "...We tried multiple defenders on him. We tried sending him one way. We tried trapping him … You have to give him credit.”
Williams is the NBA’s first player to score 50 points in a game this season, and the 52 were the most ever scored by a Pacers opponent at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, three more than Amare Stoudemire in 2008.
"You are just in a zone, you don't really see anybody,” Williams said, in quotes reported by the Associated Press. “You just go back to the places when you are in the gym by yourself with your own trainer. You are just shooting shots and it doesn't matter where the defense is at.”
Three days after losing by one point in the final seconds on the road to the Philadelphia 76ers (7-30), the Pacers (15-25) were outscored 41-26 in the fourth quarter.
Frustration boiled over late as Pacers forward David West was ejected in the final minute. Pacers coach Frank Vogel was assessed a technical foul after West’s ejection. Backup center Ian Mahinmi had been whistled for a technical foul earlier in the fourth quarter after fouling Williams on a shot. Center Roy Hibbert was ejected for a flagrant foul in the third quarter.
Williams more than doubled his previous season best of 25 points at the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 28. His previous career high was 44 points while with Cleveland. He had entered this game averaging 11 points per game.
The Pacers led 62-53, their largest lead, about five minutes into the third quarter. Williams had 17 points at that juncture. The 32-year-old guard hit shots on back-to-back possessions to start the comeback.
Indiana was ahead by six entering the fourth quarter, which Williams started with a 3-pointer. His third 3-pointer of the quarter tied the game with 5:27 remaining.
C.J. Miles gave the Pacers the lead with two foul shots, but rookie shooting guard Andrew Wiggins scored on back-to-back possessions with a dunk and a layup. He was fouled on the latter and made the free throw to give Minnesota a 93-90 lead with 4:29 remaining.
The Pacers never got the lead back.
Wiggins, the No. 1 overall selection in June’s NBA Draft, scored 20 points, nine in the final quarter.
The Pacers will look to rebound Friday at home against the league’s hottest team, the Detroit Pistons, who are 9-1 since releasing veteran forward Josh Smith. The Pistons (14-24) began the recent surge with a 119-109 home win over the Pacers on Dec. 26.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.