The Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten hot since an embarrassing home loss to the Detroit Pistons to end 2022. They’ll be looking for a little revenge when they visit Detroit on Wednesday.
Detroit won the first meeting 116-104 on New Year’s Eve by outscoring Minnesota 66-40 in the second half. That was the Timberwolves’ sixth straight loss, but they’ve turned things around in January. Minnesota is 4-0 this month, including a 104-96 victory at Houston on Sunday.
The victory didn’t come easy, though. The Timberwolves trailed by as many as 20 in the first half and were still down by four entering the fourth quarter. Then they held the Rockets to 15 points in the final 12 minutes while scoring 27 of their own to win it.
“It was literally a matter of whenever we were going to sit down and start guarding people, we’d get back in the game, no matter what the deficit was,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said.
D’Angelo Russell had a team-high 22 points in the game and backcourt partner Anthony Edwards added 21 despite left-hip soreness.
“We were down big early,” Edwards said. “I was looking around and everybody came together, like, ‘Let’s do it. If we’re going to do it, we got to do it now. We can’t wait.'”
During the slide, it seemed as if the Timberwolves might be headed for disaster. They’re now back in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference and can reach the .500 mark once again with a victory on Wednesday.
“We’re doing a much better job of hanging together when things are tough, you know?” Finch said. “I didn’t think when we got down (Sunday) it was a matter of coming apart at the seams.”
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons in their win at Minneapolis with a team-high 28 points. He didn’t play at Philadelphia on Tuesday due to left calf soreness.
Neither did rookie center Jalen Duren (ankle) nor power forward Isaiah Stewart (shoulder).
The result was predictable, as the Pistons gave up a season high in points in a 147-116 loss. That was the 10th time this season Detroit allowed 130 or more points.
“They did what they had to do as a championship level team with us being down six guys,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
The Pistons were so depleted, particularly on the frontcourt, that Casey started Nerlens Noel at center against Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid. Noel, who was acquired from the New York Knicks in an offseason deal, had only appeared in nine games all season. He had five points, five rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes, while Embiid racked up 36 points in 24 minutes.
Philadelphia shot 60.7 percent from the field.
The Pistons had only 10 players available but four of their reserves reached double figures, led by Rodney McGruder with 17 points and Alec Burks with 16.
“It was an opportunity for a lot of guys on the second unit,” Casey said. “I thought the second unit came in and competed to the best of their ability.”
Detroit will technically begin a stretch of five home games on Wednesday. The fourth game during that span, against Chicago, will actually be played in Paris, France, on Jan. 19.
–Field Level Media