MINNEAPOLIS -- It was tight until the end, which is only fitting when you consider the way the Timberwolves' season has gone.
But the players weren't going to let this one go. They wanted to get it done Saturday, at home in Target Center, with coach Rick Adelman surrounded by family and friends.
"That's what we were all talking about," guard J.J. Barea said. "It had to happen here."
And it did. Minnesota's 107-101 victory over Detroit gave Adelman his 1,000th career victory, a milestone he shares with only seven other coaches. After the final horn sounded, Adelman brought his wife Mary Kay down from the stands. He hugged her, then smiled as the fans and the players applauded.
"She had to be a part of it," Adleman said, simply. This has been a tough season for everyone involved. Injuries have spoiled a season that started with great expectations. And then Mary Kay Adelman was hospitalized during the season with seizures, a difficult stretch that twice had Adelman considering walking away from the team for good. Saturday's victory was the payoff for having gotten through that ordeal.
"I told her I was going to bring her down," Adelman said. "She wasn't very happy about that. But she has been there through the years. When you go through a job like this in situations and you move and raise six kids. If it wasn't for her I couldn't have done it."
Adelman achieved the milestone in his 1,703rd game, making him the fifth-fastest man to do it. Adelman also shared the moment with sons David, who is an assistant coach, and R.J., who works in the team's personnel department.
"It's something I never thought about, never aspired to," Adelman said. "But I got it."
It came on a night when the Wolves (29-47) struggled to put away the Pistons (25-52), who haven't won a road game against a Western Conference team all season.
Six Wolves players scored in double figures, including Barea (20), center Nikola Pekovic (20 points and 13 rebounds) and Derrick Williams (14). And the Wolves needed all that offense a pesky Pistons team that wouldn't go away.
Brandon Knight scored 25 points -- 10 in the fourth quarter -- and Rodney Stuckey had 20 for the Pistons, who were within 102-101 on Knight's layup with 44.2 seconds left. At the other end Chase Budinger missed a jumper, but the ball went out of bounds to the Wolves.
Out of a time out Wolves guard Luke Ridnour was fouled. He made the first free throw but missed the second. But Pekovic got the rebound, got it back to Ridnour, who was fouled again. This time he made both free throws with 15.4 seconds to push the lead to 105-101 and ice the game.
And then it was time for celebration. Adelman was interviewed on the court. There was a video tribute on the scoreboard. All the while Adelman and his wife were surrounded by his players, who were applauding. Afterwards Adelman praised his players as well for playing hard all season in the face of crippling injuries.
It was the least they could do for him.
"He is a great coach for me," Andrei Kirilenko said. "He is a players' coach. He likes to have a dialog, not a monologue."
"He deserves it," said guard Ricky Rubio, who struggled with a 1-for-13 shooting performance, but still managed to score six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. "What he did this season, it's amazing. He stayed with the team. He had some issues, but he got through those issues and still gets with us.
"That means a lot. I admire that. I want to say thank you for everything he did for us. ... That's leadership. He shows us how to do it."
NOTES: Count Pistons coach Lawrence Frank among those praising Adelman. "It's phenomenal. It's unbelivable," he said. "You can make an argument that he might be the most underrated coach in the history of the NBA. I love watching his team play. When you talk to players who have played for him, they always really enjoyed their experience there. I think he's a hall of fame coach." ... Detroit finished the season winless against Western Conference teams on the road. ... Adelman has downplayed any hoopla surrounding winning 1,000 games. But his son David, a Wolves player development coach, knows how important it is to his dad. "It says a lot about him and the generation of guys -- George Karl, Phil Jackson, those guys -- who grew up coaching in the '60s, '70s and '80s and all found that milestone," David Adelman said. "They were able to stay in one place for years and years and be consistently good at what they do." Frank, who had a 50-92 record in Detroit entering Saturday's game, is aware of rumors about his job being in jeopardy. "When you have a record like we have, it comes with the territory," he said. "You just do the best you can, focus on what you can control. That's about it."