By DAVE HOGG, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has been waiting for his team to start playing better in transition.
Against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit did everything he wanted and more.
The Pistons outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves 24-0 in fast-break points on their way to an easy 122-101 victory.
“Counting the playoffs, I’ve coached something like 900 games in this league, so I can’t remember all of them,” he said. “I might have seen a disparity like that before, but it is certainly rare.”
The Pistons forced 14 turnovers, matching their season-low, but took advantage of the lethargic Timberwolves off missed shots. Andre Drummond had 15 rebounds for the Pistons, who pulled down 83 percent of Minnesota’s misses.
“We’re getting better defensively, Andre makes us a great rebounding team and our point guards are moving the ball,” Van Gundy said. “We want to run, and those are the things that made it possible.”
Tobias Harris matched a career high with 34 points, and Detroit had six players score in double figures. Ish Smith had 13 of Detroit’s season-high 32 assists.
“Playing team basketball and getting into transition are really important for us,” said Avery Bradley, who scored 20 points. “We were able to get stops and get out for easy baskets tonight.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, while Andrew Wiggins added 21. The Timberwolves lost for the second time in two nights.
“Things change very quickly in this league,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can be going good, but if you don’t come with an edge every night, you’re going to get knocked on your butt.”
The Pistons trailed by 21 in the first half of their last two games and allowed Minnesota to score the first nine points Wednesday. This time, they stayed in the game and took the lead early in the second quarter.
Van Gundy started to talk about the poor start, but shook his head.
“We just played 45 minutes of outstanding basketball,” he said. “I’m not going to worry about the first three.”
Detroit led 63-44 at halftime after a 40-point second quarter. Harris had 16 points in the half, while Drummond had 10 rebounds.
Minnesota committed six fouls in the first three minutes of the third, allowing the Pistons to stay in control from the free-throw line.
“We need to understand that every player in the league is here for a reason, and every team can beat you,” Taj Gibson said. “I think after we beat Oklahoma City on Sunday, we relaxed a little. We have to be better than that.”
Detroit led 91-73 at the end of the quarter and wasn’t challenged in a sloppy final 12 minutes.
Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler missed his second straight game with an upper respiratory infection. … The Timberwolves have lost five in a row to Detroit.
Pistons: Drummond grabbed his 5,000th career rebound in the first quarter, making him the sixth Pistons player to reach that total. … Stanley Johnson’s first-quarter layup was his first made field goal at Little Caesars Arena after a 0-for-15 start.
HARRIS’ HOT STREAK
Harris has four career games with more than 30 points, with two of them coming in Detroit’s last three games. He’s averaging 23.2 points in five games this season, well above his career best of 17.1 for the 2014-15 Orlando Magic.
“Tobias was 6-of-9 on 3s tonight, and he obviously isn’t going to do that every night,” Van Gundy said. “But if he’s getting good looks, we want him to take the shot and we’ll live with the results.”
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Friday night.
Pistons: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night to start a three-game West Coast trip.
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