The Detroit Pistons are not having much fun on their current road trip, and things are not about to get any easier. The Pistons will try to avoid a third consecutive setback on Sunday, when they visit a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that won its last three games in impressive fashion.
Detroit swept a five-game homestand before heading out for a three-game trip and beginning a stretch of nine of 11 on the road, and the Pistons blew a 22-point lead while suffering a 107-100 loss to Indiana on Friday. “We’ve been on the other side of this several times this year, so this is one of the first signs of adversity for us,” forward Anthony Tolliver told the team’s website. “Losing two in a row, losing this one like we did. It’ll be a good test of our character to see how we respond next game.” The Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA in terms of opponent’s field-goal percentage for the first month of the season but are turning things around of late by committing on that end. “When we’re playing defense, we’re going to score enough points,” Minnesota swingman Jimmy Butler told reporters. “We’ve already shown that. When we guard, get stops and stop taking ball out of the net every possession down, we’re a much better team.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Detroit-plus, FS North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE PISTONS (10-5): The bright spot for Detroit on the trip is the continued development of rookie shooting guard Luke Kennard, who is becoming a valuable member of the second unit. The Duke product scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the finale of the homestand and continued his hot shooting on the road, going a combined 9-of-15 at Milwaukee and Indiana. Kennard is providing the offense on the wing that the Pistons are not getting from starter Stanley Johnson, who totaled five points on 2-of-11 shooting over the first two games of the trip.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (10-5): Minnesota trailed at the half at the NBA-worst Dallas Mavericks on Friday before allowing 32 points after the break and cruising to a 111-87 victory. “The second half, the biggest adjustment wasn’t schematic,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “It was intensity, us bringing the right intensity to the game. And once we did that, it changed. We got energy into our defense, which led to energy to our offense.” Minnesota held Dallas and San Antonio to an average of 86.5 points in the last two games and held its opponents under 100 points in each of its last six wins.
1. Pistons C Andre Drummond is averaging 18.2 rebounds over the last six games.
2. Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns recorded a double-double in each of the last five games and 12 of 15 this season.
3. Detroit took the last five in the series, including a 122-101 home win on Oct. 25.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 109, Pistons 99