THE FACTS: NBA history was made in Minneapolis tonight as Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman became the eighth coach to reach 1,000 career victories in the Wolves' 107-101 win over the Detroit Pistons.
J.J. Barea sparked a balanced Wolves' (29-47) effort with 20 points off the bench, while Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and 13 rebounds as part of seven Timberwolves in double figures. Brandon Knight racked up 25 points in the losing effort for the struggling Pistons (25-52), who have lost 18 of their past 21 games.
In his 22nd season, Adelman joins an exclusive club of NBA coaching names including Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkins, Phil Jackson, George Karl, Larry Brown, Don Nelson and Jerry Sloan. The milestone has fueled speculation about whether Adelman will return for a 23rd season -- particularly given the trials of a year lost to injuries on the court, and the ongoing health difficulties of his wife, Mary Kay, off the court. Regardless of his choice, his legacy seems clear among the list of elite coaches. Spurs coach Greg Popovich was recently quoted as saying Adelman is the, "Most underrated coach of our era, generation, time -- whatever you want to call it."
QUOTABLE: "It's been a tough, tough road with everything going on with our team this year. You don't know how hard it is to win games sometimes. I'm so glad for our players, our fans and our coaching staff right here -- and especially my wife. She had to be here. She's the reason I've been able to do this all these years. ...it's really special. A lot of games behind us, but could not have been a better support. It's something I never aspired to, never thought about, but I'm glad I got it."
-- Rick Adelman, on the court after the game, hugging his wife, surrounded by his players, and speaking to cheering fans
QUOTABLE II: "It's phenomenal. It's unbelievable. I will say it for the millionth time, he was one of the most underrated coaches in this game. He is a phenomenal teacher. For him to do it at every single stop with the consistency he has done, he is a tremendous coach."
-- Pistons coach Lawrence Frank
THE STAT: Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams, two of the main contributors to the Wolves season, were born in 1990 and 1991 -- well after Adelman won his first NBA game in Portland in 1988.
QUOTABLE III: "Thanks a lot. ... I feel older."
--Rick Adelman, amidst laughter, responding to this information from a reporter after the game
QUOTABLE IV: "I love playing for him. ... Every time I have a bad game or a bad stretch, he's calming and gives me some advice and that just gives me a lot of confidence. You have to feel it and it's amazing what he does."
TURNING POINT: After a 13-4 Pistons run that tied the score at 83 early in the fourth quarter, Greg Monroe stole the ball and looked to have an uncontested dunk until the much smaller Dante Cunningham swooped in at the last moment for a surprising block. Cunningham then went on a mini 5-0 run himself to give the Wolves some immediate breathing room at a moment when the momentum had clearly swung in Detroit's favor.
HOT: One night after playing a miserable 15 minutes in which he was held scoreless with just two assists, Barea attacked the teeth of the Pistons defense relentlessly over 21 minutes, scoring his 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting while also handing out six assists. Barea's efforts were critical to the victory on a night when the starting backcourt of Rubio and Luke Ridnour combined to shoot 2-for-19 from the field.
NOT: The Detroit Pistons laid a goose egg against the Western conference away from home this year, finishing 0-15 for the season. Even the abysmal Charlotte Bobcats of 2011-2012 (7-59) managed to beat the New Orleans Hornets on the road on the way to putting up the worst NBA winning percentage in history.
ROOKIE WATCH: Pistons forward Andre Drummond is having a bit of an audition over the final few games of the year. Frank said he wants to give him 24 minutes a game or more, and he inserted Drummond in the starting lineup tonight. He played 31 minutes and finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. The rookie out of Connecticut is a definite factor in the middle and looks to be a major part of the Pistons rebuilding effort in 2013-14.
GOOD MOVE: The Timberwolves hiring Adelman on September 13, 2011. April in the NBA can be filled with team experimentation and players mailing it in on game night, and the Wolves were certainly guilty of this in the few years before Adelman came on board. However, Adelman continues to preach the importance of playing hard every night in order to build a culture of winning, even if the playoff are out of reach. His consistent pregame message is every game matters in the process as teams learn to expect to win.
QUOTABLE V: "Glad we got it done tonight. Our guys hung in there and made some plays down the stretch to win the game. Like I said earlier, it's a great group of players who stayed with us all year long and never stopped playing. They kept battling it through; the coaching staff too."
NOTABLE: Kevin Love has still not been cleared for contact and is now likely out for the remainder of the season. ... Pekovic has now collected an offensive rebound in 72 consecutive games, the second longest active streak in the NBA (Love, 75 straight games). ... The last coach to get to 1,000 games was Nuggets coach George Karl who hit the mark on December 11, 2010, against the Toronto Raptors. ... The Pistons could rebuild quickly next year as they have up to a massive $30 million in cap space heading into the offseason.
UP NEXT: For the Pistons, Sunday vs. Chicago, Wednesday @ Cleveland, Friday vs. Charlotte. For the Wolves, Tuesday @ Golden State, Wednesday @ L.A. Clippers, Friday @ Utah.