MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Thaddeus Young scored 19 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 90 seconds to play to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 97-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.
Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 11 points, eight assists and seven boards for the Timberwolves in their home opener.
Caron Butler scored 24 points and D.J. Augustin had 20 points and six assists for the Pistons, who have opened the season with two straight losses on the road under first-year coach Stan Van Gundy.
Andre Drummond had 11 points and 12 rebounds, but he was limited in the second half by foul trouble and the Timberwolves held off a late charge from Butler and the Pistons.
Pekovic wasn’t able to play much basketball during the summer while he recovered from bursitis in his foot that plagued him for almost the entire second half of last season. The Wolves have tried to develop a program to keep their $60 million center healthy and it has been centered on a plan to measure his minutes much more closely this season.
Pekovic labored in the early going against the burly Drummond, getting pushed around underneath and struggling to get his shot off. He was just 2 for 6 from the field with three turnovers in the first half, but really started to assert himself in the third quarter.
Pekovic had nine points and five rebounds in the quarter and drew three fouls on Drummond in the first five minutes of the period to put him on the bench. With no presence in the paint, the young Wolves pounced.
Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick who headlined the trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland, scored on a soaring layup in traffic, hit a jumper from the wing and added a beauty of a turnaround fade-away jumper over Butler to give Minnesota a 72-53 lead.
Butler responded with a binge of his own, scoring 12 straight for the Pistons to start the fourth quarter and cut Minnesota’s lead to 80-74. His 3-pointer with 1:43 to play tied the game at 80, but Young hit a big one on the other end to hold the Pistons off.
Pistons: Greg Monroe served the second of a two-game suspension stemming from an arrest last February on a DUI allegation. … For the second straight game, PG Brandon Jennings did not play at all in the fourth quarter as Van Gundy rode Augustin.
Timberwolves: Kevin Martin made his season debut after missing the opener with a sore left ankle. Normally a starter, he came off the bench and had 12 points in 19 minutes. … The Timberwolves and Rubio have until 11:59 on Friday night to reach agreement on an extension of his rookie contract. If they don’t, Rubio will become a free agent next summer.
Pistons: Host Brooklyn on Saturday.
Timberwolves: Host Chicago on Saturday.
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