Pistons erupt with 36-point third quarter, cruise past Timberwolves

Detroit News

Detroit − Nerlens Noel rejected a shot by Taurean Prince that sparked a Pistons fast break, which set up a fast break led by Bojan Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic found Jaden Ivey inside the paint and the Pistons’ rookie dished a clean pass to a trailing Saddiq Bey for a two-handed dunk as he was fouled by D’Angelo Russell.

The Pistons bench erupted with excitement. Ivey broke out a rare dance move to celebrate the sequence, the most electric of a 36-point, third-quarter explosion for Detroit.

Desperately seeking a win after a three-game skid, the Pistons were able to use the quarter to create enough distance to cruise to a 135-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

The Timberwolves entered Wednesday’s game on a hot streak, winners of their last four games. They hadn’t lost since the Pistons dealt them a 12-point thumping on their home floor on New Year’s Eve.

Detroit, on the second night of a back-to-back after Tuesday’s 31-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, received some roster relief with the return of Bogdanovic and Isaiah Livers, but they remained without their two starting big men, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren.

BOX SCORE: Pistons 135, Timberwolves 118

With revenge on their minds, the Wolves had a quick start, but couldn’t sustain it as the Pistons overcame an early 10-0 deficit after a quick timeout by coach Dwane Casey. Bogdanovic scored five straight points out of the timeout to cut the lead to five and the Pistons recovered toward the end of the quarter thanks to an energetic boost from Hamidou Diallo and Alec Burks.

Six different Pistons scored in double-figures, including Bey (31), Bogdanovic (27), Ivey (18), Killian Hayes (18), Diallo (18) and Burks (13).

D’Angelo Russell led the Wolves with 19 points and five assists. Rudy Gobert finished with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.

More:News & Views: Killian Hayes’ milestone, Pistons’ schedule, Isaiah Livers nears return

Anthony Edwards, who was questionable for Wednesday night due to left hip soreness, struggled early but finished strong with 20 points and six assists in 24 minutes. He was ruled out of the remainder of the game during halftime due to the hip injury, but reappeared late in the third quarter.

Here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s win:

Bey bounces back

Saddiq Bey was called for a travel at the 9:17 mark of the second quarter. He was visibly upset, but a smiling Diallo tapped him on his chest to encourage Bey. Whatever Diallo said, worked. That or the frustration from the mental mistake was enough to motivate Bey, who then knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 13 second-quarter points.

He didn’t have much success putting the ball on the floor and attacking early on, but Bey was quite comfortable from beyond the arc. He made 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and sank a couple of mid-range shots, too. He also made 7-of-8 from the free-throw line to tally a season-high 31 points. Bey is at his best when he’s stretching the floor. He just needs to continue to trust his shot.

Noel’s defensive clinic

The former defensive standout turned back the clock on Wednesday and made a big imprint on the game, specifically in the third quarter. Noel was the Pistons’ go-to rim-protector with four blocks and three steals in the third quarter, sparking Detroit’s blitz after the half. Noel proved that he’s still a valuable player with that nostalgic performance, and it may also buy Detroit some time while Stewart and Duren recover from their injuries.

16th starting lineup

If injuries didn’t exist, Dwane Casey would have more stability with his starting lineup. However, the veteran coach has shuffled his first unit 16 times and it’s only the midway point of the season. Bojan Bogdanovic returned to the starting lineup after missing Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia due to a right calf injury.

Isaiah Stewart was sidelined for his second consecutive game due to a shoulder injury so Nerlens Noel earned his second straight start. The lineup struggled to score early on, until Bogdanovic scored a layup and a 3-pointer. He also assisted Hayes on an open triple. Casey went to Diallo and Burks midway through the first quarter to add more offense to the lineup. Bogdanovic complemented Bey’s well in that lineup, especially in the third quarter when he scored 13 points to lead the Piston’s third-quarter charge.

Livers returns

It’s only natural to feel some sort of rustiness after missing 20 games. Livers didn’t look rusty, but he just looked like a player that was eager to play meaningful minutes after watching his teammates for the past month and a half. He checked in at the 2:33 mark of the first quarter and received a light ovation from the crowd.

Casey praised his defensive capabilities before the game, and his first defensive assignment was Jaden McDaniels. He knocked down a 3-pointer to give Detroit a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter, but his best play of the game happened during his initial 10-minute stretch.

During the final seconds of the first quarter, Livers soared for a block on McDaniels, sending the ball out of bounds. However, it didn’t count because his hands hit the ball shortly after the buzzer sounded. Livers will help the Pistons going forward, on both ends of the floor. He just needs to remain healthy.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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