MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Love had 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Detroit Pistons for a 114-101 victory today.
Kevin Martin scored 24 points and Ricky Rubio added 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who are trying to mount a push for the Western Conference playoffs.
Greg Monroe had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Will Bynum scored all 17 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Pistons. But Detroit shot 40 percent and lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota.
The Wolves led by 31 points in the third quarter. Bynum got going in the fourth, and his driving layup cut the lead to 112-101 with a minute to play. But the deficit proved too big for the Pistons to overcome.
The Timberwolves came home from an 11-day West Coast road trip that included four wins in five games to move them one game above .500 and 4½ out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the demanding Western Conference. A four-game homestand against struggling opponents had them cautiously optimistic that they could sneak back into the mix.
But they opened the crucial stretch with a clunker, falling behind 15-2 en route to losing on Wednesday night to the woeful New York Knicks. The loss stung even more when Phoenix, Dallas and Memphis, the three teams right ahead of them in the playoff chase, all lost before the Wolves hit the floor.
With almost no margin for error the rest of the way, the Wolves jumped on the Pistons from the get-go and never gave them a reason to think they could hang around. After struggling mightily from the field and playing tentatively in his previous two games, Martin was very aggressive in the first quarter. He hit three of his first four shots and attacked the basket, responding to prodding from coach Rick Adelman to stop hesitating and start firing away.
Martin’s layup started a 9-0 run that gave the Wolves a 29-11 lead that essentially ended all doubt.
The battle under the boards between two of the most physical, tenacious rebounding front lines in the league never really materialized. Monroe picked up two quick fouls and a technical in the first quarter that limited his effectiveness early and Andre Drummond, who was averaging 13.0 rebounds per game and leads the league in offensive rebounds, had just two points and one rebound while playing 15 minutes over the first three quarters due to foul trouble.
Drummond finished with six points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
NOTES: Brandon Jennings had 17 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Pistons, but did not play in the fourth quarter. ... Wolves backup PG J.J. Barea, the subject of boos from the home crowd against the Knicks, had another rough game, with four points on 2-for-8 shooting. ... The rock band Arcade Fire, including basketball aficionado Win Butler, was in attendance.