Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t beaten Detroit in his young career, in large part because Pistons center Andre Drummond has won the matchup of the talented young big men.
The Pistons have defeated Minnesota in their last three meetings with Drummond averaging 22 points and 17 rebounds. Towns has posted averages of 18 points and 9.3 rebounds in those games.
The Timberwolves will need more from their second-year center to defeat the host Pistons in their second matchup of the season on Friday night. Detroit manhandled them at Target Center, 117-90, in December as Drummond piled up 22 points and 22 rebounds in 28 minutes.
Towns, by contrast, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while committing five turnovers.
Minnesota also needs a quick recovery from its last performance. The Timberwolves (19-30) were clobbered by Cleveland on the road, 125-97, on Wednesday. Minnesota had won five of its previous six games.
The Cavaliers outscored the Timberwolves 62-37 in the second half.
“I thought the first half we played well enough where we’d have a chance to win,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But I also knew in the third quarter they’d come out and bring it. And then we didn’t respond.”
Towns was surprised by the lopsided final outcome after his team kept it close in the first half.
“It never felt that big to me,” Towns added. “Sometimes, you get lost in the game and don’t realize the score’s not your way.”
The score didn’t go the Pistons’ way for three straight games prior to their 118-98 home victory over New Orleans on Wednesday.
Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a career-high 38 points, seven more than his previous best during his four-year career.
Caldwell-Pope isn’t sure what he can do for an encore. He scored a combined 37 points during the three-game losing streak that Detroit (22-27) snapped.
“I’m going to try to be consistent every night,” he said. “If it’s not my night (offensively), I’ll try to get it on the defensive end and still help my teammates get a win.”
Caldwell-Pope and a quartet of reserves swung the momentum after the Pelicans gained an eight-point lead in the third quarter.
“That first group was just walking around,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We had to try something else.”
Drummond’s numbers — 17 points and six rebounds — were nothing special. He’s averaging 14.6 points and 13.6 rebounds, down from the 16.2 points and league-high 14.8 rebounds he averaged last season, when he made the All-Star team.
Minnesota relies more heavily on Towns on the offensive end. He’s averaging 23 points and 11.9 rebounds, and those numbers have spiked upward since the New Year. Towns posted averages of 25.4 points and 12.9 rebounds in January and notched 26 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to the Cavaliers.
Those players practically swap those averages when they face each other.
“I give my all every night,” Drummond said after the last meeting between the clubs. “When the ball’s falling the right way like that, my energy kept going up more and more as the game went on because everything was kind of going the right way that night.”
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