EDS: Timberwolves 122, Pistons 114; Optional.
AP Photo DTP102, DTP101
This time, though, the first-year coach watched his young squad pull it together and post a 122-114 preseason victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.
Detroit led by three points at halftime and quickly expanded the margin to nine as Minnesota missed six of its first seven shots in the third quarter.
After a timeout, the Timberwolves put together one of the few decent defensive sequences of the game, forcing seven turnovers in a 22-4 that put them in control.
"We've made those kind of mistakes several times during the preseason, but this is the first time we've been able to get things back together," Rambis said. "It wasn't anything I said -- it was the players. Instead of everyone trying to fix things on their own, which is what they've done in the past, they worked as a team. You could hear them telling each other what to do, and that's what I wanted to see."
"We were prepared tonight -- we had to learn how to play without the big guys," Brewer said. "Tonight, we knew we couldn't just throw it into Al and get 20, and we weren't going to get 14 and 14 from Kevin. We all knew we had to step up. People in this league think I can't score, but anyone who saw me in college knows I can hit shots."
"That was good to see," Rambis said. "I'm very happy to see Oleksiy put up those kind of numbers."
Detroit (3-4) was also shorthanded in the frontcourt, with both Ben Wallace (knee) and Kwame Brown (hand) on the bench. Pistons coach John Kuester said before the game that he expected Brown to play, but he didn't.
"We still haven't seen the final results of the tests," Kuester said after the game, adding that Brown is questionable for Friday's preseason finale in Milwaukee.
Because of the injuries, Charlie Villaneuva made his first start for the Pistons, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"I played decent, and my hamstring was fine -- I was comfortable out there," he said.
Villanueva, though, wasn't as pleased with Detroit's defense, which allowed 61 points in each half.
"This is unacceptable," he said. "We've got to pick it up on the defensive end. Offensively, we don't have a problem at all, but we've got to play defense together as a team."
The Pistons lost despite shooting 59 percent from the floor, mainly because they allowed 27 points on 15 turnovers, while only scoring nine off Minnesota's nine.
"It doesn't look great when you look at their shooting percentage," Rambis said. "But I thought we did some good things defensively -- things that I hadn't been seeing before tonight. We're not going to fix everything in one preseason game in Detroit, though."