Minnesota Timberwolves And Returning Kevin Love Beat Detroit 121-94


Dec 10, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) shoots over Detroit Pistons power forward Charlie Villanueva (31) and power forward Jonas Jerebko (33) in the third quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Minnesota won 121-94. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten back on their feet after last night’s win against the Detroit Pistons 121-94. Returning Kevin Love had 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Corey Brewer had 11 points and Nikola Pekovic had 18 points and 5 rebounds.

Dec 10, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Dante Cunningham (33) goes for the rebound over Detroit Pistons power forward Jonas Jerebko (33) in the fourth quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Minnesota won 121-94. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Forcing the Pistons to shoot jumpers turned their offense into chaos. Detroit hit just 38 percent of its outside shots and 29 percent from three-point range. In the meantime, the Timberwolves were shooting almost 50 percent on threes and took 33 free throws to Detroit’s 16.

“They are such a hard team to defend because they can score in so many ways,” Pistons Coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Once they get scoring, they almost never stop, so you have to keep scoring with them. We had a couple stretches where we either turned the ball over or missed a few shots in a row, and that let them get away from us.”

Love only played 30 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter. Detroit was unable to stop him inside, outside or on the break. Several of his seven assists came on his trademark 70-foot outlet passes off missed shots.

“He’s a unique player, because he can sit down on the block and score against you, and then he can step out and hit three-pointers,” Cheeks said. “On the other end, he’s grabbing rebounds and hitting those passes over the top on the break. He hit a few of those against us, and that’s an easy basket.”

Kevin Martin added 18 points for Minnesota, which finished with six players in double figures.

“We did a great job of pushing the ball,” said point guard Ricky Rubio, who had 15 points for the night. “We had fun out there, and we were aggressive. That got us to the line, and then Kevin (Love) just does everything for us.”

Brandon Jennings had 20 points for Detroit, but Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were held to a combined total of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“They had won four of their last five games, so we knew we had to jump on them early and not let up,” Love said. “We had a big run and then kept the game in double digits. That really shows our leadership and maturity throughout our lineup.”

The Pistons have relied heavily on their frontcourt this season, but they didn’t have the advantage in that matchup against Minnesota.

Love, Pekovic and Brewer had 37 points in the first half, seven more than Detroit’s Drummond, Josh Smith and Monroe. The Timberwolves had a 28-26 edge on points in the paint, usually Detroit’s biggest strength, and made 17 free throws to just one for Detroit.

“I’m not going to complain about the free throws, because that’s part of the game,” Cheeks said. “They were more aggressive than we were, so they got to the line.”

That was good enough to give the Timberwolves a 64-51 halftime lead, even though both teams had shot just over 52 percent from the field. Detroit trailed by as many as 17 points in the third, but going to a zone defense helped them cut the margin to 86-75 late in the quarter.

Martin hit two three-pointers to make it a 17-point lead, and Minnesota was up 96-77 going into the fourth quarter. With a fourth game in five nights coming Wednesday in New Orleans, Cheeks conceded early in the final quarter, emptying his bench as Detroit fell farther behind.

“We have to forget this and get ready to play tomorrow,” rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “They just spread us on defense by hitting threes, and then they threw the ball inside for easy baskets. It’s tough to stop that.”