"They had won four of their last five games, so we knew we had to jump on them early and not let up," Love said. "We had a big run and then kept the game in double digits. That really shows our leadership and maturity throughout our lineup."
The Pistons have relied heavily on their frontcourt this season, but didn't have the advantage in that matchup against Minnesota.
Love, Nikola and Brewer had 37 points in the first half, seven more than Detroit's Drummond, Josh Smith and Monroe. The Timberwolves had a 28-26 edge on points in the paint, usually Detroit's biggest strength, and made 17 free throws to just one for Detroit.
"I'm not going to complain about the free throws, because that's part of the game," Cheeks said. "They were more aggressive than we were, so they got to the line."
That was good enough to give the Timberwolves a 64-51 halftime lead, even though both teams had shot just over 52 percent from the field. Detroit trailed by as many as 17 points in the third, but going to a zone defense helped them cut the margin to 86-75 late in the quarter.
Martin hit two 3-pointers to make it a 17-point lead, and Minnesota was up 96-77 going into the fourth quarter. With a fourth game in five nights coming Wednesday in New Orleans, Cheeks conceded early in the final quarter, emptying his bench as Detroit fell farther behind.
"We have to forget this and get ready to play tomorrow," rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. "They just spread us on defense by hitting 3s, and then they threw the ball inside for easy baskets. It's tough to stop that."
NOTES: Due to injuries, the game was Love's first at the Palace since the 2010-11 season. ... Chauncey Billups of the Pistons played for the first time since Nov. 12. He had missed 14 games with knee tendinitis. He played 17 minutes and despite obvious rust on his jumper, finished with seven points and five assists. ... Caldwell-Pope finished with a career-high 16 points, while fellow rookie Tony Mitchell hit the first 3-pointer of his career at the final horn.