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Pistons finish strong, edge Timberwolves

Jan 29, 2009 - 4:54 AM By James Beilby PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Rasheed Wallace came up big at the end of the third and fourth quarters as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 98-89, on Wednesday.

Detroit came into the game having lost eight of its last 11 games, while Minnesota, after starting the season 4-23, came in with a league-best 10-2 record in January.

"(Minnesota) has been locked into what they are supposed to be doing," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "Here's a team that has been really hot. But starting in the third quarter we tried hard to make it difficult for them. We got guys off their spots. To play this team and not double Al Jefferson, that's tough. So you have to give a lot of credit to our bigs."

With Minnesota holding an 86-83 lead with 3:40 to play, Antonio McDyess scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Pistons the lead. Wallace then scored seven unanswered points to secure the victory for Detroit.

The Timberwolves managed only one field goal over the final 5:51 and were outscored, 19-5, over that span.

"It was like we were stuck in the mud," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "We kept pressing and trying, but couldn't get over the hump. You have to give some credit to the other team, of course, but a lot of that was self-inflicted."

Al Jefferson led the Timberwolves to a 52-50 halftime lead with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the first 24 minutes.

Ryan Gomes was held scoreless in the first half but recorded eight of his 10 points in the third quarter as Minnesota extended its lead to 11 with 4:03 to play in the quarter.

"You knew they were going to make a run," Minnesota guard Randy Foye said. "They're a veteran team. I thought we would be able to go right back at them, but they went to Rasheed and he turned it up a bit."

A dunk and a 3-point shot by Wallace on back-to-back possessions, however, helped Detroit close the lead to 72-71 at the end of the third.

"He's tough," Al Jefferson said. "You can't block that shot. No way. You just have to try to get a hand up."

Detroit only turned over the ball seven times, a season low for a Minnesota opponent.

"We'll be OK scoring the basketball as long as we share the ball and don't turn it over," Curry said. "The big thing is to lock it in defensively. In the second half, I thought we did an excellent job doing that."

With Wednesday's victory, Detroit now has a four-game winning streak in Minnesota.

Jefferson finished with 24 points and rookie Kevin Love had 17 and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.

Minnesota's last 10-win month came in March 2005.