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Coach returns after 5-game absence

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Larry Brown was coaching again, Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups were in the lineup again and the Detroit Pistons defense showed up, too.

After allowing more than 100 points in back-to-back losses, Detroit shut down the Minnesota Timberwolves down the stretch en route to a 93-85 victory Wednesday night.

"Having Chauncey and Ben back was more important than me, that's for sure," Brown said. "Losing those two has a big effect on your team."

Billups, who missed the Pistons' loss in Utah with a sprained ankle, had 15 of his 21 points in the third quarter.

"I just wanted to be aggressive out there," he said. "We played the way we play -- good defense and we took stuff away from Minnesota."

Wallace was out two games because of a death in his family but returned to help Detroit hold Minnesota scoreless during a key six-minute stretch of the fourth.

"That's our game," he said. "Our legs were fresh and we were able to play tight defense."

Brown missed five games, including three losses, with a hip problem. The team announced an hour before the game that he would probably not coach, but he joined the team during pregame introductions. Brown had a special chair at courtside to ease the
pain.

"I felt stupid -- Joe Dumars told me that I must be the first coach to ever be a game-time decision," Brown said.

Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 24 points and Tayshaun Prince
added 19.

Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, while
Latrell Sprewell scored 24.

"Detroit makes it tough on you, because all five of their players go to the basket," Garnett said. "They make you beat them by shooting jump shots, and you can't win a game that way."

Minnesota led 45-41 at halftime, thanks to 11 points and eight rebounds from Garnett.

The Timberwolves led by seven midway through the third, but Detroit answered with a 12-0 run to go up 62-57. The final six points came from Billups on a 3-pointer and a three-point play.

"Those points turned the whole game around," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "Chauncey hit those big shots and changed the whole tempo."

Detroit led by 11 going into the fourth, but Troy Hudson and
Eddie Griffin combined on a 9-0 run to make it 75-72 with 9:45 to play.

That's when the Pistons defense took over, as the Timberwolves didn't score again until Wally Szczerbiak's technical-foul free throw with 3:39 left. Billups had the most spectacular play of the streak, racing down the court to block Garnett's layup attempt from behind.

"That's what we do," Billups said. "It's when we get away from it that we get ourselves into trouble."

Game notes
Szczerbiak's dunk at the halftime buzzer was originally ruled good, but a replay review showed that he released the ball just after time expired. ... Wallace picked up a technical in the second quarter for arguing a call. Saunders got one at the end of the third. ... Brown, who was worried about not being able to get out of the way on the floor, was nearly run over late in the game. Sam Cassell, though, was able to check his momentum and ended up just hugging Brown.