Adelman Gets Win No. 1,000, Wolves Beat Pistons 107-101

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Everyone got to their feet at the end of Minnesota’s 107-101 victory over the Pistons on Saturday, and some took their places in the aisles on their way to the exits. But hardly anyone left. On an historic night at Target Center—just the eighth night of its kind—the 15,311 on hand awaited an interview between Wolves play-by-play man Dave Benz and coach Rick Adelman commemorating the long-time coach’s 1,000th win.

Adelman was joined by his wife, Mary Kay, his assistant coaching staff and his team on the court. Together. A fitting way to spend these special moments postgame considering what he, his family and this squad have gone through this season. Through the personal trials and the on-court injuries, Saturday’s victory was much more than a single NBA victory. And it was more than simply a milestone benchmark for a future Hall of Fame coach. This win was a testament to the team’s strength—to an idea that through it all, this group was going to stick together.

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Wolves vs. Pistons

“In some ways when I look back at it, it was good for this group,” Adelman said. “We have had such a tough time that you are just trying to scrap wins out. When you have something like this that you are actually working for there is expectations; there is a little bit more pressure and I think that is good because this group we have to learn what that is all about. To be a good team that's where the expectations are. It's not just to win a game it's to keep going. I'm really happy with the way they have played the last week."

[Related Content: Rick Adelman and George Karl began competing for Jack Ramsay's assistant coaching position. They wound up changing the game and making up 1/4 of the 1,000 wins club.]

Minnesota picked up its fifth win in eight games and sent Detroit home with its 18th loss in 21 contests. The Wolves put this stretch of consistent play together with a team that is finally as healthy as it has been all season. On this night, it took a team effort to pull out the victory.

The Wolves battled through every comeback attempt the Pistons sent their way. When Minnesota allowed an 11-4 run in the third, the Wolves responded with a 10-0 run to push their lead to 75-66. When the Pistons came roaring back again early in the fourth, Minnesota picked up a crucial block from Dante Cunningham—who subsequently scored the next five points to make it an 88-83 game.

And in the waning moments, with the Wolves leading by just one at 102-101 with 44.2 to play, Minnesota showed the mental toughness needed to hold on.

Just one night earlier, the Wolves lost a 95-93 contest against Toronto because of missed free throws down the stretch. This time, Luke Ridnour connected on 3-of-4 and Pekovic added a pair of makes all in the final 25 seconds, icing the six-point victory.

[Related Content: Longevity is key to reaching 1,000 wins, and Rick Adelman has what it takes.]

“We might not have had that many wins, but at the same time this is a special group,” Derrick Williams said. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, and nobody broke. We all stuck together, and that really shows a lot.”

The Wolves got 20 points and 13 rebounds from Nikola Pekovic, while, J.J. Barea provided a spark off the bench and poured in 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Williams added 14, Andrei Kirilenko and Cunningham each had 13 and Ricky Rubio and Chase Budinger each had 10.

Had the Wolves not been able to hang on, much of that would be attributed to Brandon Knight. The sharpshooter connected on 9-of-15 shots for the Pistons, including 3-of-4 from distance, and finished with 25 points. He had 10 in the fourth alone on 4-of-5 shooting. Rodney Stuckey added 20 off the bench, and Greg Monroe had 16.

In the end, the Wolves endured. They picked up a special win for their coach, and they provided a statement about themselves in the process.

“We’re a team,” Barea said. “We’ve had a tough year, but we’ve stuck together pretty good.”

Leader of the Pack

Wolves center Nikola Pekovic once again set the one inside and finished with 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds. He shot 7-of-15 from the floor and grabbed six offensive rebounds for the Wolves. He is now averaging 25.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over four games in April, and he’s shooting 58.9 percent during that span.

Highlight of the Night

With about 10 minutes remaining and the Pistons coming back, Dante Cunningham put together a sequence that made a big difference in the game. Detroit had just tied the game at 83-83 and picked up a steal, and Greg Monroe went the other way in transition. Monroe went up for the jam, but Cunningham came out of nowhere to reject Monroe with a monster block. Cunningham was then fouled on the other end, hit both free throws, and hit a mid-range jumper on his next possession. He hit 1-of-2 from the line on their next trip down the floor. In all, Cunningham scored the game’s next five points after the block and helped Minnesota push its lead back up to 88-83.

The Numbers Game

  • Rick Adelman became the eighth coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins, joining Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, George Karl and Larry Brown. He did it in his 1,703rd game, becoming the fifth fastest coach to win his 1,000th game. Adelman won his 600th game on this exact date (April 6) 10 years ago.

  • The Timberwolves hit 14-of-26 3-point attempts last time out against the Pistons in Auburn Hills. They hit 6-of-14 tonight, good for 42.9 percent for the game. They shot 50 percent from 3-point range this year against Detroit despite shooting 30.3 percent for the entire year.

  • J.J. Barea entered the game having gone 0-for-5 from the field and had zero points on Friday night against Toronto. It was the first time this season he was held scoreless during a game in which he played this season, and only the third time it has happened in his Wolves career (twice in 2012). He followed it up with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting against the Pistons, including 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the second.

  • Nikola Pekovic tallied his 26th double-double of the season. He came into tonight averaging 24.2 points on 59.2 percent shooting and 10.4 rebounds over his last five games.

  • Ricky Rubio notched his sixth four-by-five game of the season tonight with 10 points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds. He trails only Chris Paul in 2008-09 and LeBron James in 2004-05 for the most four-by-five games including a steal during an NBA season since 1998-99. Paul and James are tied for the most with seven.

  • The Wolves have now won six straight over Detroit. They have won five of their last eight games since beating the Pistons in Auburn Hills on March 26. The Pistons are now losers of 18 of their last 21 games.

  • Quote of the Night

    “He deserves it. What he did this season, it’s amazing. To stay with the team—he had some issues, but he gets through those issues and he still gets with us, and that means a lot. That means the compromise he had with this team, and I admire that. I think I just want to say thank you for everything he did for us, and stay with us in tough moments, even for him it was even tougher. That’s leadership. He showed us how to do it.” — Wolves guard Ricky Rubio on Adelman’s 1,000th win

    Next Up

    The Wolves have three games coming up on the West Coast, including stops in Golden State on Tuesday, in L.A. to face the Clippers on Wednesday and Friday against the Jazz. They’ll return home for their final two home games of the 2012-13 season, beginning next Saturday against the Suns and followed by Monday against the Jazz. Minnesota’s final game of the year is on April 17 against San Antonio.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at