Timberwolves-Pistons Preview


The Detroit Pistons are watching center Andre Drummond come of age during their best stretch of the season.

The Minnesota Timberwolves hope the return of their established star big man can help end their worst.

The Pistons go for their fifth win in six games Tuesday night when they host the Timberwolves, who are expected to have Kevin Love as they try to avoid their eighth loss in 10 contests.

With Drummond taking his game to another level, Detroit (10-11) has gone 4-1 this month, including a 107-97 victory at Miami last Tuesday.

In a 115-100 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 1, the 20-year-old center became the first player to finish with 31 points, 19 rebounds and six steals in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990. He set career highs in all three categories and went 12 of 15 from the field, two days after coach Maurice Cheeks left him on the bench for the last 21 minutes of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Drummond has responded to the benching by shooting 63.2 percent and averaging 18.4 points, 16.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the past five contests. He had 19 points, 14 boards, two steals and two blocks on Sunday, but the Heat got their revenge with a 110-95 win that snapped Detroit's season-high four-game winning streak.

Drummond's six-game run with at least six offensive rebounds is the longest by a Piston since Dennis Rodman had eight straight Feb. 25-March 10, 1992.

"They have a cornerstone guy in Drummond," Miami's Shane Battier said. "He's a guy you can build a franchise around. His talent is that apparent."

Since allowing 47.9 percent shooting and posting a plus-1.6 rebounding margin in their first 16 games, the Pistons have limited opponents to a 42.6 shooting percentage with a plus-11.2 rebounding advantage over the last five.

The Timberwolves (9-11), losers of six of seven on the road, rank near the bottom of the league with a 42.3 field-goal percentage after shooting a franchise-low 29.3 percent in Saturday's 103-82 loss to Miami.

They should get a lift with Love expected to play after missing that game to be with his family following the death of his grandmother Wednesday night.

The two-time All-Star has averaged a team-best 23.7 points while sitting atop the league with 13.6 rebounds per game and 18 double-doubles. He's grabbed 18.3 rebounds per game in his last three against Detroit, though he sat out the three most recent meetings due to injury.

The Timberwolves are looking to improve defensively after allowing 108.2 points and 52.2 percent shooting while dropping five of six. The Heat shot 55.1 percent against them Saturday.

"We allowed them, you know, too many easy layups," center Nikola Pekovic told the team's official website.

With Love out, Kevin Martin scored 19 points but shot 5 of 16. Pekovic had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Pekovic has been playing well, averaging 20.5 points and 10.3 boards over his past four games. He's averaged 20.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in his last three against the Pistons.

Minnesota has won the last six meetings.