AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons are probably being flattered by an easy stretch of games.
That isn't going to stop them from enjoying a rare bright spot in a terrible season.
Detroit pulled away in the second half to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-85 on Tuesday for its third win in four games.
“We're trying to play consistent basketball,” Detroit coach John Kuester said. “I thought we played very well for 48 minutes. This was as good a performance as we've had in quite a while.”
Detroit is 4-2 in February after a 4-19 stretch, but three of the wins came against Minnesota and the hapless Nets.
“We knew we could play like this,” said rookie Jonas Jerebko, who led a balanced attack with 21 points. “It's a lot of fun when we play together and share the ball. We just have to keep it up.”
Minnesota dropped its third in a row, and fell to 4-26 on the road. Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis was angry about his team's first game after the All-Star break.
“We were awful,” he said. “Our defense was awful, our energy level was awful, our ball movement was awful and our execution was awful.”
Kevin Love agreed, comparing the game to the team's play during a 1-15 start.
“This looked like the old Timberwolves — the way we played at the beginning of the season,” said Love, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds despite an ugly mouth injury. “We had the game tied at halftime, and we talked about needing great energy in the second half, and then we came out and played like we were still on the All-Star break.”
Love spoke with a badly swollen lower lip. He took an accidental elbow from Jason Maxiell that drove the lip into his braces.
“The lip caught on the braces, so I had to come into the back to get it unhooked,” he said. “It's a good thing I have them, though. I probably would have lost at least one tooth without the braces.”
The Pistons had five players in double figures and got at least two points from all 12.
“The way we shared the ball — 37 assists on 46 baskets — that's phenomenal,” Kuester said. “When we continually do that, we are going to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The game was tied at 52 after an offense-dominated first half. The Pistons shot 57 percent, while Minnesota hit 53 percent of their shots, but neither coach was happy.
“It was disappointing to shoot 57 percent, have 19 assists and still be tied,” Kuester said. “We shot the ball extremely well again in the second half, but we were able to shut them down, especially early in the third quarter.”
Rambis didn't think his team had played well enough to deserve a tied score.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I didn't like the way we started the game at all. There might have been one decent stretch at the end of the first quarter, but that was it.”
Detroit took control with a 12-point run to start the third quarter. Rodney Stuckey and Ben Wallace each had four points in the surge.
The Pistons outscored Minnesota 33-13 in the quarter, giving them a comfortable 20-point lead heading into the final period, and they cruised to the win.
NOTES: Stuckey hit his two free-throw attempts in the first half, while the rest of the Pistons went 0 for 5. ... Bill Laimbeer made his first regular-season appearance at the Palace as a Minnesota assistant coach. Laimbeer won five championships in Detroit — two as a player with the Pistons and three as the coach of the WNBA's Shock. ... Detroit's big third quarter was the first time they had scored 30 points in the third quarter this season. ... Will Bynum had a career-high 14 assists for Detroit.
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