Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/23

Game 1: Friday, January 23rd
Pistons79Final
Timberwolves80
Game 2: Friday, February 20th
Timberwolves88Final
Pistons87

Pistons 87

(34-23, 20-9 home)

8:00 PM ET, February 20, 2004

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 25 22 20 2188
DET 20 21 21 2587

Top Performers

Minnesota: K. Garnett 25 Pts, 13 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 Blk

Detroit: C. Billups 20 Pts, 10 Reb, 11 Ast

Traded players sit out second half

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- A paper mix-up, not a temper tantrum, cut short Rasheed Wallace's debut with the Detroit Pistons.

After Wallace played 12 minutes in the first half, the NBA ruled he could not play because paperwork from the trade was not completed by gametime. Minus their newly acquired big man, the Pistons lost to Minnesota 88-87 Friday night.

"I felt like they wasted all of our time," Wallace said. "It definitely hurt."

Kevin Garnett had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to their fifth straight victory.

"We're right where we want to be," Garnett said.

Garnett is impressed with what Detroit's big move does for the Pistons.

"This team is one of the best teams in the NBA, (not just) the East," he said. "They're coming out of the East."

Sam Cassell scored 16 and Latrell Sprewell had 12 for the Midwest Division-leading Timberwolves, who have won nine of 11.

"It was a huge win," said Wally Szczerbiak, who scored seven points in his second game since being activated from the injured list.

Wallace was dealt just before the trading deadline Thursday after playing only one game for Atlanta, which acquired the temperamental player from Portland last week. He scored four points on 2 of 6 shooting and had two rebounds.

The Pistons found out at halftime that Wallace and Mike James, acquired in the three-team trade that also involved Boston, were not eligible to play.

The league informed Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars of its decision, he relayed it to Detroit coach Larry Brown, who then told Wallace the news a few minutes before the second half started.

"I feel bad for my team, I feel bad for the people doing the game and I feel bad for the people that came here," Brown said. "That's not right."

Wallace sat on the bench in his warmups in the second half, and encouraged his new teammates during timeouts. James had one foul in five minutes.

"All the necessary paperwork was not received by the league," Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said. "It will probably be cleared up (Saturday).

The Pistons expect Wallace and James to play on Sunday at home against Orlando.

"It's a matter that will have to be reviewed by the league," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

Minnesota was in control for much of the game, but it didn't win easily.

Cassell kept the Pistons' hopes alive by missing two free throws with 31.6 seconds left.

After Richard Hamilton's layup made it 85-83, Sprewell missed a free throw with 19 seconds left.

Hamilton made another layup to pull Detroit within one with 14.4 seconds left, then Cassell made two free throws.

Sprewell missed two at the line, the second intentionally, with 1.3 seconds left.

"I was telling Latrell to make it, and some of the guys were telling him not to," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "I told him after the game that he better listen to me next time."

The Pistons could not get a shot off at the end of the game.

Detroit's Chauncey Billups fouled out after reaching his second career triple-double with 20 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Hamilton scored 24 points, Ben Wallace had 17 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Corliss Williamson added 12.

The Pistons have lost seven of eight after they won 17 of 20.

When Wallace stepped on the court with 4:31 left in the first quarter, he was welcomed with a rousing, standing ovation.

"It was great. It was all love," Wallace said. "That showed me that they want me here and that showed basketball is alive and well in 'The D'."

When he didn't return to the floor in the second half, fans started chanting "We Want Wal-lace!"

"I was saying, 'Me Too!" Wallace joked.

Game notes


Minnesota activated center Michael Olowokandi from the injured list Friday. He missed 35 games after having surgery on his right knee injury. Darrick Martin was released to make room for Olowokandi. ... Detroit activated Tremaine Fowlkes on Friday after he missed 26 games with a back injury.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIN
DET
Points 88 87
FGM-FGA 34-77 (.442) 33-77 (.429)
3PM-3PA 4-10 (.400) 4-12 (.333)
FTM-FTA 16-25 (.640) 17-25 (.680)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-37 15-51
Assists 21 20
Turnovers 10 16
Steals 11 4
Blocks 7 5
Fast Break Points 4 4
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 22 (0/0)

Top Performers

Minnesota
Detroit
Kevin Garnett Garnett
Points: 25
Reb: 13
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 4
Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 20
Reb: 10
Ast: 11
Stl: 0
Blk: 0