AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Kevin Love had 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 121-94 rout of the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
Love only played 30 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter with the big lead. 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.
Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin added 18 points each for Minnesota, which finished with six players in double figures.
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.
The Pistons have relied heavily on their frontcourt this season, but didn’t have the advantage in that matchup against Minnesota.
Love, Nikola and Corey 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.
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 3-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, Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks conceded early in the final quarter, emptying his bench as Detroit fell farther behind.
NOTES: Due to injuries, the game was Love’s first at the Palace since the 2010-11 season. He had missed Minnesota’s previous game after the death of his grandmother, but returned in time to play against Detroit. … Chauncey Billups of the Pistons played for the first time since Nov. 12. He had missed 14 games with knee tendinitis. He played 17 minutes and despite obvious rust on his jumper, finished with seven points and five assists.
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