Love Leads Timberwolves Over Pistons 109-99
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love had 27 points and 18 rebounds and Darko Milicic blocked a career-high seven shots to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 109-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Luke Ridnour had 20 points and 10 assists, scoring 11 in the fourth quarter to help the Wolves to just their sixth win of the season.
Richard Hamilton scored 26 points and rookie Greg Monroe grabbed 15 rebounds in his first career start for the Pistons, who fell to 2-12 on the road.
The Pistons led by 13 in the first quarter, but were outscored 58-26 in the paint while squandering the lead.
Love had his NBA-leading 18th double-double and grabbed at least 15 boards for the ninth straight game, the longest streak since Ben Wallace did it in 14 consecutive games in 2002-03.
Milicic was vilified in Detroit after president of basketball operations Joe Dumars chose him with the second overall pick in 2003, a well-documented blunder that allowed Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to slip past the Pistons.
As a 17-year-old from Serbia coming to a veteran team, Milicic was in completely over his head. He never averaged more than 7 minutes a game in two-plus seasons in Motown and wasn’t much better in stops in Orlando, Memphis and New York.
He came to Minnesota at the trade deadline last season and was fully intending to go home to Serbia and never come back to the NBA. But Milicic was encouraged by his increased role and signed a four-year deal worth $16 million guaranteed to return and has flourished this season.
Milicic leads the NBA in blocks and stuffed Monroe on two straight attempts in the third quarter to energize Minnesota. Milicic finished with 11 points and five boards.
After blowing double-digit leads in three of the last four games, the Timberwolves fell behind early in this one.
Hamilton put on a clinic for Wolves rookie Wes Johnson in the first quarter, scoring 12 points and coaxing Johnson into three fouls as the Pistons build a 13-point lead.
Love had one point and no rebounds in the first quarter, the first time he’s gone without a rebound in an entire quarter since Nov. 19. He took over in the second quarter, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 boards to help the Wolves take the lead.
But Detroit opened the fourth with a 12-6 spurt, tying the game at 82 on a jumper by Will Bynum with 9:22 to play.
Ridnour took over from there, scoring six in a row and Corey Brewer chased down an offensive board and then coasted uncontested for a dunk that gave the Wolves a 96-87 lead, and they never looked back.
It’s been that kind of season for the Pistons, who lost their eighth straight road game. Their high-priced duo of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, who signed contracts totaling 10 years and $90 million in 2009, combined for 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting off the bench.
NOTES: Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said swingman Martell Webster (back) will practice on Sunday and Monday and play his first game of the season Tuesday at Golden State if all goes well. … Minnesota PG Jonny Flynn (hip) started his second rehab stint with Sioux Falls of the D-League. The plan is for him to play Friday night and Saturday night and rejoin the team for its West Coast trip next week.
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