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.