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Minnesota at Detroit

Pistons clinch second-best record in league with win over T-Wolves

CBSSports.com wire reports

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Flip Saunders only cares about one more thing in the regular season. He wants his Detroit Pistons to get through Wednesday's game in Cleveland without an injury.

After Detroit's 115-103 victory against Minnesota on Tuesday night, Saunders said he wasn't worried about someone getting hurt in the meaningless game against the Cavaliers, but he knocked on the wooden table as he said it.

The victory clinched the league's second-best record for Detroit, meaning it would have home-court advantage if it gets past Boston and the rest of the Eastern Conference into the NBA Finals.

"That's nice to have, but I don't think it is critical," Saunders said. "With the 2-3-2 format, I don't know how much it even means."

The Pistons won the 2004 championship without having the home-court edge in the final round, and didn't push themselves too hard to earn it this time. In the last two weeks of the season, Saunders limited his starters to around 25 minutes a game.

"We decided on April 1 that we were going to start rotating in the young guys, and we'd take whatever happened," he said. "Luckily for us, the kids have done a great job, and we went something like 10-2."

On Tuesday, Detroit got 55 points from the reserves, including 20 from Jarvis Hayes and nine each from three others.

"We're having a good time out there right now," said Richard Hamilton, who led the starters with 18. "We've gotten ourselves into a rhythm and we're ready to go."

Detroit finished the season with a 34-7 home record, eight games better than a season ago.

"Last year, we lost sight of taking care of our home court," Chauncey Billups said. "This year, we didn't want to let that happen again."

The loss, which ended Minnesota's two-game winning streak, was its 60th of the season. The Timberwolves finish the season with a home game against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"We tried to hang around -- we were right there at the end and they just made some plays," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "Their bench just shot the lights out on us."

Billups added 17 points and six assists against his former team, while Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 30 points.

"Everyone makes good plays on that team, even their bench," Jefferson said. "That's why they are one of my favorites for the playoffs. When they won it in 2004 they had a good bench, and now they've got young guys who can play and make shots."

The first half followed Detroit's recent pattern. The starters kept the game close in the opening quarter -- the Pistons led 24-23 at period's end -- and the reserves convincingly won the second quarter.

This time, it was Hayes and Lindsey Hunter combining for 20 points as the Pistons pulled to a 52-43 halftime lead.

"Lindsey made shots, Jarvis made shots and we have good energy," Saunders said. "With that group, when we're making shots, we can turn it up defensively. That's important."

Detroit's starters returned for the third period, expanding the margin to 14, then let the reserves finish off the game.


  • As part of a season-long promotion, the Pistons gave away a $250,000 house at halftime. The winner was Tina Howard of Macomb Township.
  • According to a team spokesman, Detroit will start the playoffs Sunday against Philadelphia, but the game time has not been announced.
  • The Timberwolves finished 1-14 in road games against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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With the starters on the bench, Jarvis Hayes comes up with 20 points.  (Getty Images)
With the starters on the bench, Jarvis Hayes comes up with 20 points. (Getty Images)
Minnesota (21-60) 23202931103
Detroit (58-23) «24283429115
MIN:A. Jefferson 30 Pts
MIN:A. Jefferson 9 Reb
MIN:R. Foye 9 Ast
DET:J. Hayes 20 Pts
DET:T. Prince 7 Reb
DET:C. Billups 6 Ast
Players of the Game

J. Hayes

A. Jefferson

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R. Gomes, PF415-101-296114
A. Jefferson, PF3912-266-1091430
R. Foye, PG356-140-009413
M. Jaric, SF304-55-543313
K. Snyder, SG242-51-47205
R. McCants, SG318-171-212419
C. Brewer, SF254-50-01039
C. Richard, PF160-30-04030
A. Walker, SFDid Not Play
G. Buckner, SGDid Not Play
M. Doleac, CDid Not Play
M. Madsen, PFDid Not Play
S. Telfair, PGDid Not Play
C. Smith, PFDid Not Play
Totals 41-8514-23352322103
A. McDyess, PF284-82-261210
R. Hamilton, SG288-170-003018
C. Billups, PG254-88-816217
R. Wallace, PF241-43-44125
T. Prince, SF244-62-371110
J. Hayes, SF247-123-453420
J. Maxiell, PF243-63-66229
R. Stuckey, SG232-85-54529
A. Johnson, SF112-22-22026
A. Afflalo, SG111-10-01022
L. Hunter, SG94-60-00219
T. Ratliff, C90-10-03010
J. Dixon, SGDid Not Play
C. Samb, CDid Not Play
W. Herrmann, SFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7928-34392421115
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