Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/23

Game 1: Friday, January 23rd
Game 2: Friday, February 20th

Pistons 79

(29-15, 11-10 away)

    7:00 PM ET, January 23, 2004

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 13 25 22 1979
    MIN 18 25 20 1780

    Top Performers

    Detroit: M. Okur 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Minnesota: K. Garnett 22 Pts, 17 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Blk

    Billups' go-ahead jumper waved off

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons gave the Minnesota Timberwolves a taste of physical basketball, but with one shove too many.

    Latrell Sprewell's driving layup with 57 seconds remaining helped the Timberwolves to an 80-79 victory over the Pistons on Friday night.

    Sprewell took a feed from Kevin Garnett along the right baseline and laid the ball off the glass in traffic.

    After both teams missed baskets, Chauncey Billups was called for an offensive foul with 2 seconds remaining as he tried to clear out Garnett and Sam Cassell on a 10-foot jumper.

    Billups put his forearm into Garnett's chest and released his shot, which went in. But referee James Capers immediately signaled Billups for the foul, and the Wolves inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.

    "I had both Sam and KG up in the air," Billups said. "I don't know what they figured."

    Cassell pointed out that Garnett would have been able to block Billups' shot had Billups not put the forearm into him. But that argument was lost on the Pistons -- coach Larry Brown refused to meet with the media after the game -- and possibly even on Garnett.

    "We got lucky," Billups quoted Garnett as saying when the two shook hands after the game.

    When asked about the call in the locker room, Garnett said, "It was a 'W.' Great call."

    Detroit held Minnesota's "Big Three" of Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell to a combined 20-for-60 shooting and 48 points. The Wolves shot just 37 percent but were able to win their 10th straight home game and eighth of nine overall.

    "When you don't shoot well, all of the little stuff has to go your way," Sprewell said. "Over 82 games, you're going to have ones like this."

    Mehmet Okur scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pistons rallied after trailing for much of the game. Detroit lost its second consecutive game after winning 13 in a row.

    Garnett scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half. Sprewell finished with 17 points and Cassell had just nine.

    Garnett made consecutive baskets to put Minnesota up 78-75 with 3:12 to play, but Richard Hamilton made a layup with 2:54 remaining and Okur dunked with 1:56 left to give the Pistons the lead.

    The Wolves had been averaging nearly 100 points a game since Dec. 1, going 19-4 in that span. But Detroit, as it has throughout much of its recent hot streak, lured its opponent into a more rugged style.

    The Pistons have allowed only one opponent this season -- Dallas on Jan. 11 -- to reach 100 points.

    The Wolves led by as many as 10 points in the first half but were never able to pull away. Chucky Atkins' 20-footer with 1:36 left in the third quarter gave Detroit a 60-59 lead, its first since 4-3.

    Cassell made consecutive jumpers to put Minnesota back on top, 63-60 at the end of the quarter.

    Cassell and Garnett, both probable Western Conference All-Stars, combined to shoot 4-for-17 from the field in the first half and had just nine points between them at the break.

    Sprewell scored 11 points in the first quarter and Fred Hoiberg had 10 in the second period to help the Wolves build a five-point halftime lead.

    The Pistons were sluggish at the start for the second straight game. Their 18-percent shooting equaled their mark from the opening quarter against Indiana on Tuesday, when the Pacers ended the Pistons' 13-game winning streak.

    Detroit has lost seven straight at Target Center, dating to March 5, 1997.

    Game notes

    Wolves coach Flip Saunders said before the game that Hudson would play 15 to 20 minutes a game while he gets back into playing shape. "This is his training camp," Saunders said. ... Minnesota backup center Ervin Johnson was not with the team because of a death in his family. Saunders said after the game that Johnson would also miss the Wolves' game Sunday against Phoenix. ... The Wolves had their third sellout of the season (19,006).

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 79 80
    FGM-FGA 27-72 (.375) 31-85 (.365)
    3PM-3PA 6-12 (.500) 4-14 (.286)
    FTM-FTA 19-23 (.826) 14-15 (.933)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-45 12-47
    Assists 19 18
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 8 9
    Blocks 8 6
    Fast Break Points 6 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 17 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Mehmet Okur Okur
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 22
    Reb: 17
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2