Wolves Beat Pistons 93-85 For Second Straight Win






Wolves Beat Pistons 93-85 For Second Straight Win


Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Minnesota Timberwolves learned another little nugget about themselves Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons. The Wolves, who have fallen behind early in ballgames throughout the season, needed to bear down and battle a difficult shooting night from the field in order to pick up their 93-85 victory over the Pistons at Target Center.

And as the team battled back, chipping away one possession at a time, Minnesota reinforced a notion coach Rick Adelman instilled early in training camp.

No matter how the offense is performing, defense is the key to victories.

"Our guys have really bought into trying to defend," Adelman said. "All they talk about in timeouts is getting stops. We've got to get stops; we've got to get in a rhythm. Our shots will fall. That's the type of attitude you've got to have. You've got to defend and you've got to rebound."

On Wednesday, in their last game before a two-game West Coast road trip, it was paramount.

The Wolves opened up the night in a particularly large shooting slump. The Wolves mustered just 17 points on 25-percent shooting heading into the second, and with 4:41 to go the Wolves trailed a Pistons team averaging a league-worst 85 points per game by 16.

But that's when the Wolves dug in, and it started with their bench. Anthony Tolliver's pair of 3-pointers late in the first half helped bring the lead down to eight, and the Wolves never trailed by double digits the rest of the way.

Tolliver led the charge defensively, too, guarding veteran forward Tayshaun Prince when he was on the floor. Prince, who had 25 points through three quarters, was shut down through the fourth like the rest of the Pistons' squad. He finished with four of the team's 14 fourth-quarter points.

"We definitely made progress tonight," Tolliver said. "We definitely had some stretches where it wasn't too good, either. But our goal is to continue to get where we're playing 48 minutes like we had some stretches today."

In the fourth, the Wolves took over.

Holding Detroit (3-12) to 31 percent shooting in the final quarter, Minnesota made its move. Derrick Williams' free-throw with 9:40 remaining tied the game at 71-71, and JJ Barea—playing in his first game in a week—hit a 3-pointer with 8:57 to play to give Minnesota its first lead of the night.

And it was Tolliver's 3-pointer with 6:31 to play that gave the Wolves (6-8) the lead at 79-78, and they would not trail again. Forward Kevin Love said the bench's contribution on both ends of the floor was the boost the team needed.

"I just kept looking into the bench the whole time saying, 'Stay into it, stay into it, stay into it.' They were going to get their chance and they did," Love said. "They took advantage of it. Coach kept those guys rolling. We started the second half a little different and got the job done."

Love finished with his league-leading 14th double-double of the season, overcoming a 7-of-20 shooting night to finish with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Forward Wes Johnson finished with 11 points of his own, notching his second game scoring double digits this season.

Nikola Pekovic provided a spark down low, especially in the early stages of the third quarter. His presence in the paint helped neutralize Detroit's ability to drive to the basket, and he also added 11 points offensively.

"He's a presence in there, and we needed a physical presence," Adelman said.

Prince led the Pistons with 29 points, while Ben Gordon finished with 18 points and Greg Monroe had 13 points and 12 boards.

Tolliver finished with 11 points, and Ricky Rubio finished with nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals. He took a Brandon Knight charge with 1:50 to go that all but sealed Minnesota's win and reinforced the team's lesson it's learning each day.

Defense is the key to victory.

"We have a lot of fight in us," Johnson said. "Last year we would have laid down a lot more. But I think at those points, the mindset has changed so much starting with training camp. I think that rolled into the season. ... We've got a lot of stuff to work on, but for our group I think our mindset is changing."


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