By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS - Minnesota Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman made the most of his homecoming against the Indiana Pacers.
Wittman, an Indianapolis native, had to wait a little longer for the win, but Minnesota finally pulled out a 113-110 exhibition victory in double overtime on Friday night.
Wittman graduated from Ben Davis High School before joining the Indiana University basketball program, where he was a member of the Hoosiers’ 1981 NCAA championship team. During his NBA playing career, he spent four seasons (1989-92) with the Pacers.
“It’s special,” Wittman said of returning to Indianapolis. “I come back here and visit (family) every summer.”
The Timberwolves and Pacers gave fans at Conseco Fieldhouse their money’s worth, trading the lead through part of the fourth quarter and the overtime periods.
However, Wittman would have preferred to see the game end sooner, especially since his team led by as many as 23 points in the first half.
“There’s nothing worse than overtime in exhibition,” he said.
Craig Smith had 20 points, Ricky Davis scored 19 and Al Jefferson added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves (2-3).
Jeff Foster finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds for the Pacers (4-1), who were without forwards Jermaine O’Neal (hyperextended left knee) and Troy Murphy (strained left Achilles’).
Marquis Daniels and Jamaal Tinsley both added 18 points for Indiana and Travis Diener had 16.
Despite their first loss of the preseason, many of the Pacers were encouraged by their comeback efforts.
“Guys are fighting and clawing, and this is the type of team you’ll see every night,” Tinsley said.
Late in the fourth quarter, Daniels’ runner gave the Pacers a 92-89 lead, but Jefferson’s three-point play sent the game to overtime.
Shawne Williams’ free throw put Indiana ahead 104-102 with 14 seconds remaining in the first overtime, but Minnesota’s Chris Richard sent the game to a second extra period after tipping in Davis’ missed jumper at the buzzer.
Trailing 110-109 in the second overtime, the Timberwolves went back in front on Smith’s two free throws with 1:25 left. A free throw by Greg Buckner extended the lead to two points with 14 seconds remaining, and Davis made it 113-110 with a free throw seconds later.
The Pacers had a chance to tie, but Diener’s 3-pointer was short with time winding down.
“We put ourselves in a bad situation and we were unable to get out of it,” Foster said.
Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy left the game in the third quarter and did not return after getting poked in the right eye. O’Neal is expected to miss Saturday’s game at Chicago, and Murphy could be out 10 to 14 days.
Minnesota was without guards Randy Foye (left knee tendinitis) and Sebastian Telfair (ankle).