Caron Butler made things interesting down the stretch, but the Minnesota Timberwolves were able to whether the storm.
Butler came off the bench to score 24 points in 31 minutes. The Wolves led by as many as 19 points in this one, however a late rally courtesy of Butler and the play of reserve guard D.J. Augustin, got the Pistons back into the game.
They were able to tie it at 88 with 1:43 to play. Thaddeus Young hit a three-pointer with 90 seconds to play to put the Wolves up. They'd finish the game on a 9-3 run for the 97-91 victory.
The biggest concern heading into the game for the Wolves had to be the matchup at center. Nikola Pekovic has struggled through the preseason and in last night's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Nikola Pekovic got off to a slow start. He had 6pts on 2-of-6 shooting & 5reb at halftime. Andre Drummond finished the first half with 8pts on 4-of-10 shooting and 8reb.
Nikola Pekovic really got going in the third quarter. He went after Drummond and drew three fouls against Drummond early in the third, forcing him to sit with foul trouble. Pekovic scored 9pts on 4-of-5 shooting to go along with 5reb in that third quarter. Thaddeus Young added 9pts himself and Andrew Wiggins turned around a slow start to the game (0-for-4 from the field in the first half) to score 8pts on 4-of-5 shooting. It was all part of Minnesota's 30-point third quarter that gave them a 10-point lead, 75-65 lead after three quarters.
For the second straight game Thaddeus Young led the team in scoring with 19pts (7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-3 FT) in addition to 5reb, 2ast, 3stls, 1to, 3fls in 34 minutes. He was a game-high +15 on the night.
Kevin Martin returned to the active roster after missing Wednesday's opener. He came off the bench, while Flip went with the same starting lineup (Rubio, Brewer, Wiggins, Young, Pekovic) and scored 12pts in 20 minutes.
Flip elected to go with his veterans down the stretch, sitting Andrew Wiggins while the game was still "up for grabs". The vets executed with that late push for their first win of the season.
Here's the full box score from tonight's action...
The Minnesota Timberwolves committed just 12 turnovers after coughing the ball up 23 times against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. It's likely a combination of two factors: a more concerted effort for ball control and crisp passing AND facing a weaker team defense. Ricky Rubio turned the ball over 7 times against the Grizzlies in the opener, but committed just 1 turnover in 29 minutes tonight against Detroit. The Wolves have yet to break out their fast break game. They had 11 fast break points tonight.
-Zach LaVine made his NBA debut tonight. He played 5 minutes off the bench, but accumulated no stats. Mo Williams picked up two fouls and he came into the game midway through the second quarter.
-The Wolves have until 11pmCST on Friday night to reach an extension with guard Ricky Rubio. If no deal is struck, Rubio will become a restricted free agent this summer. As of Friday afternoon, the two sides remained about "$6million apart".
The Wolves will be back in action on Saturday when they'll face the Bulls. Tipoff is set for 7pmCST.
Cody D. Anderson
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