INDIANAPOLIS – At one point Tuesday night at Banker’s Fieldhouse Mo Williams went up to Indiana guard C.J. Watson and said, basically: Don’t bother.
There is nothing you can do, no defense you can try, no tactic you can employ.
“I said, ‘Man, there ain’t nothing y’all can do today,’ ” Williams said. “ ‘Don’t even worry about it.’ He shook his head and said, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m shooting it in the Pacific tonight.’ ”
So this what it takes to end a 15-game losing streak. A huge game. A monster game. A career game.
Tuesday, Williams scored a franchise-record and NBA season-high 52 points. Of those, 37 came in the second half, 21 in the fourth quarter, as the Wolves shook off that losing streak with a 110-101 victory over the Pacers.
Williams scored six in the first quarter, nine in the second, 16 in the third. But it was as the final 12 minutes of the game were about to start, with the Wolves trailing by six, when Williams went to members of the Wolves bench and told them there was no way the Wolves (6-31) were going to lose this game.
“He said, ‘Listen, this is our game to win,’ ” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “ ‘We’re not losing this game.’ ’’
And then he went out and started throwing the ball into the Pacific Ocean. Williams scored 21 fourth-quarter points to go with four assists.
The quarter began with Williams, who became the third Wolves player to score 50 points in a game, hitting a 26-foot three-pointer.
His 29-footer made it a four-point game. Moments later, trapped on a pick-and-roll, Williams fed Robbie Hummel for a trey and it was a one-point game. Williams’ 27-foot three-pointer with 5:27 left tied the score at 88.
And the Wolves were off. Passive for much of the game, Andrew Wiggins (20 points) had a nine-point fourth quarter. He gave the Wolves their first fourth-quarter lead with his basket at 4:29. Moments later, his two free throws made it a five-point Wolves lead. Hummel’s basket from Williams kept it at five just minutes later. Hummel scored all seven of his points in the fourth.
And then, with 1:19 left, Williams dribbled from the top of the key to the right and let fly a falling-away 29-footer that hit nothing but net and pushed the lead to six.
That, folks, is what’s known as being in a zone.
“When you’re in a zone, you don’t see nobody,’’ said Williams, who sank 19 of 33 shots, six of 11 three-pointers. “It takes you back to that moment when you’re in the gym, just shooting. It doesn’t matter what a defense does, all you have to do is get the shot off, it will go in.’’
Put it all together and it was more than the Pacers (15-25) could handle. Even with six players scoring in double figures. The Pacers, who lost their second in a row, lost center Roy Hibbert to a flagrant foul and an ejection midway through the third quarter, when he pulled Gorgui Dieng (10 points, 10 rebounds) violently to the floor.
The frustration only got worse.
“He was in a ridiculous zone,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said of Williams. “We tried multiple defenders on him, we tried sending him one way. We tried trapping him, and he just shot the ball over our traps.’’
He did it all.
Saunders said it was the hottest he’d ever seen a player get in his 17 years in the league. Thaddeus Young said it was the best game he ever witnessed.
“All I could do is laugh at the Indy players,” he said. “They were going crazy.’’
To Williams, the best thing for him and his teammates was being able to revel in a victory, the team’s first since Dec. 10 and their first on the road since Nov. 28.
“It’s not just me enjoying this,” he said. “We won. Everyone can enjoy it. It’s great to have a good feeling in here.’’
Before his postgame interview Williams called out to Zach LaVine. He had something he wanted LaVine to carry to the bus. LaVine laughed and shook his head.
“I’ll carry you to the bus if you want,” the rookie said.