Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 10/16

Game 1: Sunday, October 16th
Game 2: Friday, October 28th

Timberwolves 80

(0-3, 0-2 away)

Pistons 91

(3-0, 3-0 home)

    6:00 PM ET, October 16, 2005

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 23 21 15 2180
    DET 25 19 23 2491

    Pistons top T-Wolves as Saunders faces former team

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Flip Saunders didn't want to make a big deal about coaching against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Still, the new Detroit Pistons coach couldn't enjoy the feeling of seeing Kevin Garnett on the other side for the first time.

    "I knew exactly what Kevin was going to do to us," Saunders said after Detroit's 91-80 exhibition victory on Sunday against his former team. "I must have seen it a thousand times."

    Saunders coached Minnesota from 1995-05 before replacing Larry Brown during the offseason.

    "I know all those guys, so it was an odd feeling," Saunders said. "But I have a new group now. A new family."

    "It was pretty weird, I'm not even going to lie," said Garnett, who played for Saunders for his entire stint in Minnesota. "I think forever, until I'm out of this league, when I see Flip, we're always going to have that connection."

    One of the issues facing Saunders in Detroit is trying to decide who will be his backup swingman. Ronald Dupree, who is battling Maurice Evans and Carlos Delfino for the position, made his case with 13 points and seven rebounds against Minnesota.

    "We've got 15 guys under contract, so this is about finding a role," Dupree said. "I'm just trying to stay patient and play hard. I'm feeling good, and it is showing on the court."

    Dupree had only played 10 minutes in Detroit's first two games, but took advantage of his 25 minutes on Sunday.

    "We're trying to look at different guys in that spot -- tonight, we rested Mo and maybe we'll limit Delfino in the next game," Saunders said. "Ron was good tonight. He's an NBA player, and I don't just mean someone to fill a roster spot. He can play in this league. He's going to make this a tough decision."

    Rasheed Wallace scored 15 points for Detroit, which improved to 3-0 in the exhibition season. Chauncey Billups added 10 points for the Pistons, while Delfino had nine. Detroit outrebounded Minnesota 45-33.

    "There were times that it seemed like we were firing on two or three cylinders," Saunders said. "But we got it going in the third quarter and the second unit did a nice job in the fourth."

    Richie Frahm led Minnesota with 13 points. Trenton Hassell scored 12 and Garnett added 11.

    "It was a good effort tonight," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "It was a positive effort against a very good Pistons team."

    The teams were tied at 44 at the half, and still deadlocked at 57 late in the third quarter. Detroit, though, went on an 8-0 run that included four points from Wallace, and led 67-59 at the end of the period.

    Darko Milicic then helped Detroit seal the victory with seven points, a block and a steal in the first 3:30 of the fourth quarter. Milicic finished with all 10 of his points in the fourth.

    "We know what our top six or seven guys can do, so we measure progress by the development of the other guys," Saunders said. "Darko did a nice job of protecting the lane tonight."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press