Timberwolves Pull Away From Pistons 116-105
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Kevin Love’s latest double-double was almost an afterthought.
Love had 20 points and 20 rebounds Wednesday night, and the All-Star had plenty of help for a change as the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled past the Detroit Pistons 116-105. Anthony Randolph added 19 points and 10 rebounds, part of a 61-point effort by the Minnesota bench.
“I was really happy with our effort and energy tonight,” coach Kurt Rambis said. “I thought our second unit played very well together, which helped us a lot.”
Starting point guard Luke Ridnour scored 15 points and didn’t miss a shot, and backup Jonny Flynn had eight points and a career-high 14 assists. Randolph was one of three reserves in double figures for Minnesota. Lazar Hayward scored a career-high 16 points and Anthony Tolliver added 13.
Love’s double-double was his 48th in a row, the longest streak since Moses Malone’s 51 straight games from 1978-79. Love appeared to hurt his right thigh while scoring on a fast break with 5:54 remaining, but he was able to play on.
“When we move the ball like we did tonight, everyone is going to get a chance to score, so everyone is happy,” Love said.
The Timberwolves have won three of their last five road games after a 2-23 start away from home.
Austin Daye scored a career-high 22 points for the Pistons.
Minnesota led 93-89 early in the fourth quarter before scoring seven straight points to pull away. Flynn scored on an easy drive to the basket, then made a nice pass to Hayward inside for two more points. Hayward then made three free throws to make it 100-89.
“We’re thinking too much on offense,” Detroit coach John Kuester said. “We’ve got to start taking pride in what we’re doing defensively, change the culture of the team in work ethic, everything that we do from a defensive standpoint. We’ve got to recommit to what we’re doing on that defensive end.”
Love came off the court during a timeout midway through the fourth quarter pointing to his thigh, but after having it iced, he was able to go to the free throw line and complete a three-point play to make it 105-91.
He scored his 20th point on a free throw with 23.1 seconds left.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton played for the first time at home since Jan. 8. Hamilton has played in back-to-back games since he and Kuester said Monday they had met to try to improve their relationship.
Hamilton scored 11 points.
Minnesota shot 53 percent from the field. The Pistons kept up for a while but settled for outside shots late in the game. Detroit finished 5 of 25 from 3-point range and missed all nine of its attempts from long range in the fourth quarter.
“As a team, I think we got a little stagnant,” said Detroit’s Greg Monroe, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pistons were hoping to regroup from recent turmoil involving Hamilton and make a playoff push, but they lost at Milwaukee on Tuesday night and then were beaten handily by Minnesota. Detroit is still without Tayshaun Prince, who has a bad back, and Tracy McGrady, who’s been benched.
The Pistons led 32-30 after a first quarter in which they weren’t called for a single foul — aside from a technical on Chris Wilcox. Minnesota’s reserves eventually wore them down. The bench scored 33 straight points for the Timberwolves — the last eight of the first quarter and the first 25 of the second — and they led 63-61 after two quarters.
“This was by far the best collective game from our point guards,” Rambis said. “Luke played 17 minutes and was 5 for 5. I thought he and Jonny both did a good job. When you combine their numbers from the point guard position, those are pretty impressive numbers.”
Notes: Minnesota’s Darko Milicic, drafted by Detroit with the No. 2 overall pick in 2003 in between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, missed the game because of a family matter. … Detroit’s Ben Wallace also missed the game because of a family matter, the death of his brother Saturday. … Daye tied the score at 65 early in the third quarter with a four-point play from the left wing.