Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves' All-Star power forward, had not played in nine days following the death of his grandmother. Love looked refreshed and inspired in his return, piling up 26 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in 30 minutes as the Timberwolves pounded the Detroit Pistons 121-94 on Tuesday night at The Palace.
"It's really a holy place for me and it has been my whole life," said Love of being back on a basketball court. "Any time I've had some sort of adversity, it's the best way to get back. I always say my work ethic is my weapon. That's always been a way to get through any adversity. It was great to get back out there."
Shooting guard Kevin Martin and center Nikola Pekovic supplied 18 points apiece for Minnesota (10-11), which has won seven straight against Detroit. Point guard Ricky Rubio contributed 15 points and nine assists.
The Timberwolves, who outscored Detroit 28-8 at the foul line and forced 20 turnovers, had lost five of their last six coming into the game. They took control in the second quarter and held a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
"We went on that run, kept it at double digits and never really looked back," said Love, who recorded his league-high 19th double-double despite sitting out the fourth quarter of the blowout. "When we can do that and show our maturity and show our leadership throughout the entire lineup, that's really big for us. But I keep saying, we've got to have a short memory, win or lose, because we have another one tomorrow."
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman was especially pleased to see his team rack up 31 assists on 41 made field goals while out-rebounding the Pistons 46-39. Detroit had out-rebounded 15 of its first 21 opponents.
"We had good patience," Adelman said. "We were cutting harder. There was a little more (pep) in our step than there has been the last week or so."
The Pistons (10-12) gave up a season high in points while losing their second straight. Point guard Brandon Jennings led Detroit with 20 points and seven assists. Small forward Josh Smith added 17 points, but just one after the break, and rookie guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a career-high 16 points.
"Even when we were hanging around, they were scoring pretty good," Pistons coach Mo Cheeks said. "We couldn't get any defensive stops and that's a good offensive team. All Rick Adelman teams usually are pretty good offensively. They were scoring. We were scoring. Then we had those turnovers and they continued to score. We can't put ourselves in such a hole."
Love, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the first half, kept the Timberwolves rolling by finding Rubio for a 3-pointer. Love's 3-pointer with7:34 left in the third quarter made it 74-57. Martin's back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third kept the advantage at 17.
Both coaches emptied their benches in the fourth.
"We have to go back to the drawing board," Caldwell-Pope said. "We have a game (Wednesday), so we have to get ready for that one. We have to just let this one go."
NOTES: Detroit's last win over the Timberwolves was a 103-98 victory at Minnesota in the 2009-10 season finale. ... Pistons C Andre Drummond was averaging an NBA-high 5.2 offensive rebounds and had at least six in the past six games entering play Tuesday. He had four offensive boards Tuesday. Detroit coach Mo Cheeks, who played with prolific rebounders like Moses Malone and Charles Barkley, is even more impressed by Drummond's ascent. "Those guys had offensive plays run for them, so they were probably closer to the rim," Cheeks said. "We rarely run a play for Andre, and he's still around the rim. He chases the ball and finds the ball." ... Pistons guards Rodney Stuckey (knee) and Will Bynum (hamstring) were inactive. ... Minnesota began the night 0-5 when scoring fewer than 100 points and 0-9 when trailing after three quarters. ... Before Tuesday's game, Minnesota SF Corey Brewer and SG Kevin Martin had a combined 33 dunks, 14 more than the remainder of the team.