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Timberwolves torch Pistons from long distance in 105-82 win

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Point guard Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves usually beat themselves by taking 3-pointers. For one night, the long ball became their method of destruction.

The Timberwolves made a season high 14 3-pointers, including seven in the third quarter, to overwhelm the Detroit Pistons 105-82 at The Palace on Tuesday.

Minnesota (25-44) came into the game shooting 29.4 percent on 3-point attempts, easily the league's worst in that category. They shot 53.8 percent from deep against the Pistons, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games.

Rubio, who had made just 11 3-pointers in 43 games and was shooting 19.6 percent beyond the arc, made both of his attempts in the third quarter when Minnesota outscored Detroit 38-16. The Timberwolves led by as much as 28 points.

"Yeah, we've been struggling but I know we can make shots," Rubio said. "We just have to believe. Today, the shots were going in and felt comfortable. We didn't have a good percentage from the three and it's fun to have one of these games."

J.J. Barea tied his season high with 21 points, Nikola Pekovic contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds and Luke Ridnour added 15 points for the Timberwolves. Rubio supplied 14 points and nine assists as Minnesota won by 20 or more points in consecutive road games for the first time in franchise history. The Timberwolves defeated Phoenix 117-86 on Friday before losing to Chicago 104-97 at home on Sunday.

"We're due for some nights like this," Barea said. "We were moving the ball a lot better today for open shots and knocking them down. Hopefully, we can carry this over."

Jose Calderon had 14 points and Greg Monroe chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons (24-48), who ended a 10-game losing streak at Charlotte on Saturday. Another futility streak continued, as they lost their seventh straight at home.

The home crowd, listed at 16,877 but much less than that to the naked eye, booed the Pistons more heavily than in any previous game this season.

"We deserve to be booed," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "It comes with the territory. We have to give them a better product and we didn't do that tonight."

Minnesota used its rare 3-point barrage in the third quarter to grow its six-point halftime lead. The Timberwolves fired in five in the first six-plus minutes. Rubio hit two of those to make it 61-48.

"They shot 29 percent for the season and they made 14 threes," Frank said. "How many were contested? Not many. It started in the second quarter when they shot 56 percent. Defensively, there were just so many breakdowns and like any team, they got confident."

Layups by Pekovic and Rubio pushed the advantage to 18, 70-52, before Minnesota returned to its outside game. Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Timberwolves continued to pull away, leading 82-54 by the end of the quarter.

That resulted in extended garbage time with each team resting starters in the fourth quarter.

"It was really nice," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "It was a six-point game at halftime and we said 'Win the third quarter.' And we went out and dominated the third quarter."

Pekovic made six of seven field-goal attempts in the first half, including a last-second layup to give the Timberwolves a 44-38 halftime lead. Calderon led the Pistons with 10 points but their offense was off-kilter as they recorded just five assists in 16 baskets.

NOTES: Timberwolves forward Kevin Love missed his 40th consecutive game because of a broken hand. Detroit center Andre Drummond sat out his 22nd straight game with a back injury and reserve guard Will Bynum was sidelined by a right hand strain. ... The Pistons' last home victory came against Washington on Feb. 13, just before the All-Star break. They are 3-15 following the break, with two of the victories coming at Charlotte. ... Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva recorded the 300th block of his career during the second quarter. ... Minnesota has a five-game winning streak over the Pistons but this was the first meeting this season. They will play again in Minnesota on Saturday, April 6. ... Longtime Pistons trainer Mike Abdenour missed the game after being placed on medical leave on Monday. ... This was the first of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch for the Timberwolves. They have another one in April.
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