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Jan 16, 2024 4:24 pm

Pistons ride rare momentum into date with Timberwolves

Alec Burks may be playing too well to remain with the Detroit Pistons much longer.

The 32-year-old reserve guard has emerged as one of the few bright spots for the Pistons. He tied his career high with 34 points against Washington on Monday afternoon, lifting his club to just its fourth victory.

The Pistons will look to collect back-to-back wins for the second time this season when they begin a six-game homestand against Western Conference leader Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Burks is averaging 18.7 points over the last 11 games.

“He’s a great vet. He can really score the ball. I love playing with him,” forward Isaiah Stewart said. “Every time he steps out on the floor, he’s in range. He’s the type of guy that just hits all types of shots, and once he’s hot, he’s hot. Seeing him have a performance like that (Monday), he deserved that and I’m happy for him.”

Burks could be the type of player a contender would covet for its second unit. Making him even more attractive to potential suitors is that he has an expiring $10.49 million contract.

The Pistons already pulled off a deal with the Wizards on Sunday, shipping forwards Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers and two second-round picks to Washington for forwards Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala.

Detroit’s motivation was mainly to clear more cap space for the offseason. None of the players suited up against their former teams on Monday but Gallinari and Muscala could make their Pistons debuts on Wednesday.

“We’re trading for guys who know how to play, but also have been traded before,” coach Monty Williams said. “So they understand that integration process. … They both play somewhat of a small-ball five now, so to think that you’re going to use them both at the same time is probably not something that I’m gonna even try to push.”

Minnesota is coming off a productive weekend. The Timberwolves defeated Portland by 23 points on Friday, then pulled out a 109-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

“Our defense was outstanding all night long,” coach Chris Finch said after beating L.A. “Our one-on-one defense was elite, and Rudy (Gobert) was absolutely huge in there. Offensively, we did enough against a really good defensive team.”

Gobert posted 15 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. He knocked down four free throws in the final minute after missing seven of 10 earlier in the contest.

“Rudy has been playing awesome,” guard Anthony Edwards said. “Let’s say that first. (Sunday), he was great again, protecting the rim, getting us in the bonus early, making his free throws, just getting all the rebounds and making sure they don’t finish at the rim. Defensive Player of the Year, for sure.”

Edwards led the offense with 33 points and six assists. The top pick of the 2020 draft, Edwards is averaging 26.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists this season.

The Timberwolves are making a quick pit stop in Detroit. They’ll return home to play Memphis on Thursday in the second game of a back-to-back.

–Field Level Media

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