With just over two minutes remaining Wednesday, Indiana's Buddy Hield drove past Rudy Gobert and a few other Wolves players to get a layup.
In the moment, the basket pulled Indiana within two, but it laid the groundwork for the most important sequence in the Wolves' 121-115 victory over the Pacers.
The Wolves are still a team figuring out how best to play with and around Gobert, the defensive force who had one of his best games in Minnesota with 16 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks. On the play, Gobert would have preferred if his teammates didn't come over to help near the basket.
"When someone drives on me, unless I fall down, which doesn't happen, just let me make a play." Gobert said. "Then if they score, I'll take the blame."
They listened. The exchange offered a glimpse into a moment of growth for the team and how it secured a needed victory to get back to .500 (12-12).
Shortly after that, Gobert hit a pair of free throws to put the Wolves ahead 117-115 with 32.8 seconds remaining. Then on Indiana's next possession, Hield (26 points on seven threes) found himself matched up on Gobert from the same spot, the left wing.
Hield again drove on Gobert, who was respecting Hield's shooting ability. But this time, the Wolves didn't help. Anthony Edwards looked like he was about to do so, but he stopped. Nobody got in Gobert's way — and Gobert blocked the shot.
Edwards (26 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, six steals) secured the rebound and iced the game with two free throws at the other end.
Finally, Gobert finished the night with an emphatic dunk as chants of "Rudy. Rudy" rang out from the crowd, a far cry from the booing that accompanied many of the team's early duds. After he had some inconsistency to open the season — and an ejection on Saturday — Gobert said Wednesday was more indicative of how he can play on a nightly basis.
"It's on me to earn that trust," Gobert said. "I think I've not been at the level I know I can be yet. I think tonight I was there. I know that it's a long season and I'm going to be able to keep raising my level and keep earning that trust. They got some glimpse of it, but they haven't got to see the real Rudy yet."
Gobert had help from Edwards, who helped the Wolves open a 23-point lead in the first half before they nearly relinquished all of it by halftime. But they regrouped in the fourth quarter thanks to their defense and D'Angelo Russell, whose shotmaking carried the Wolves to the finish line, where Gobert was there waiting to drag them across.
Russell, who had good clutch shooting numbers a season ago, had 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. He also set up Gobert on the sequence that sent Gobert to the free-throw line to break a 115-115 tie.
"Y'all seen it before," Russell said. "Humbly speaking, I feel like I try to come alive, no matter how the game is going in the fourth, those last few minutes I try to make something out of nothing a lot of times. That's when it kind of works for me."
Wednesday ultimately worked for the Wolves, even if they went through about two quarters of rough basketball. They aren't picky about how they win, just that they do so. Maybe on Wednesday, the learned a little something about themselves in the process.
"I see this every year I've been in the league where either a young team is trying to figure it out," Russell said. "Not realizing that it's that one little play that can dictate the game … you're trying not to be that guy. On film, when coach pauses the film, don't be that guy that's in the wrong."
At least for Gobert's block, everyone did as they should have.