Pistons hang on for 100-97 win over Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Pistons already had lost two games on their current road trip. They didn’t want to return home without a victory.
Andrew Drummond and Reggie Jackson made sure Detroit ended its trip on a high note.
Drummond had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Jackson scored nine points in the fourth quarter to lead Detroit to a 100-97 comeback victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. The Pistons trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter but rallied to steal a road win.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Drummond said. “I have that mentality every night, but this game, I didn’t want to go 0-3 on the road.”
The Pistons (11-5) bounced back after dropping back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Timberwolves (10-6) saw their three-game winning streak end.
Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris each added 18 points as all five Pistons starters scored in double figures. Six of Jackson’s 16 points came in the final 1:26 of the game.
Detroit lost its previous two games to Indiana and Milwaukee by a combined nine points. After suffering a pair of close road losses, the Pistons flipped the script against the Timberwolves.
“We didn’t finish the other two, and tonight we finished,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It was good to get the win, but if you look at these three games as a whole, we played on the road three really competitive games against good teams.”
Jimmy Butler had a team-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds and five steals for Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins added 24 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Butler had a chance to tie the game with 6.7 seconds remaining when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He made the first two free throws but missed the third.
Minnesota was forced to foul Harris with 3.3 seconds to play. Harris made both free throws, and Butler’s desperation heave at the buzzer rattled out as Detroit escaped with the win.
Detroit outscored Minnesota 29-17 in the fourth quarter, a statistic that didn’t sit well with Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau.
“You’ve got to play for 48 minutes,” Thibodeau said. “We didn’t play our best in the fourth. The fourth quarter is different.”
The Timberwolves led by just four at halftime after leading by as many as nine. That advantage quickly disappeared, though, as Detroit climbed back to go ahead early in the third.
That was when Butler took over for the Timberwolves. The veteran guard, who didn’t play the first time Minnesota faced Detroit, had 12 points in the third quarter alone. During the period, Butler hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push Minnesota’s one-point lead to 68-61.
Harris, Detroit’s leading scorer this season, was quiet in the first half. Minnesota held him to four points on 2-of-10 shooting before halftime. However, Harris scored 12 points in the third quarter to help the Pistons take a lead shortly after the break.
The Timberwolves led by nine after three quarters but couldn’t make stops defensively in the fourth. Minnesota also struggled on offense in the final 12 minutes, shooting just 35.3 percent in the fourth.
“We’re a resilient bunch,” said Wolves forward Taj Gibson, who scored 10 points in the loss. “We have a good team. These games are going to happen. We’ve just got to learn from it and just keep pushing.”
Drummond left the game midway through the third quarter with an injury. He landed awkwardly after missing a shot and held his left arm, visibly in pain. He later returned to action, though, and gave Minnesota trouble in the paint down the stretch.
“I went to go dunk the basketball and I don’t know what body part hit Andrew Wiggins,” Drummond said. “I hit something really hard and my whole arm just went numb, so I couldn’t do anything. I had to come out of the game.”
NOTES: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said PF Jon Leuer would have another MRI on Monday to examine his sprained left ankle. Leuer has not played for Detroit since Oct. 31. ... The Timberwolves go on the road Monday for a game against the Charlotte Hornets. It will be the third time Minnesota plays back-to-back games this season. ... Detroit plays its second game of a back-to-back on Monday, playing host to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons are 3-0 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.