Three nights after he battled shot-swatting Hassan Whiteside in Miami, Timberwolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns took his first look at Detroit's double-double machine, Andre Drummond.
If Towns, who just turned 20 on Sunday, is the least bit intimidated, it isn't showing.
Whiteside delivered his second career triple-double Tuesday with 10 blocks to go with 22 points and 14 rebounds, but Towns exploited the matchup in the places he could and delivered 14 points and 14 rebounds himself. Friday, he faced the first Pistons player to reach double-doubles in the season's first 11 games since Dave DeBusschere had 13 to start the 1966-67 season.
Oddly enough, Towns said bigger, stronger, older players have not tried to muscle him so far this early in his career, but they attack him in a certain way nonetheless.
"You know what? For me, I really haven't," the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft said when asked about getting pushed around. "I think it's more people are trying to have me get early fouls. It's not the physicality part, trying to outmuscle me. It's more trying to get me on the bench."
Friday, Towns countered Drummond's physical presence by taking him out on the floor, making three jump shots from range to start the game. Both players got into foul trouble, each picking up three and sitting down to end the first half, and Drummond's run of double-doubles continued to 12 when he finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Detroit's 96-86 victory.
The Wolves scratched forward Nemanja Bjelica from the lineup an hour before Friday's opening tip. His absence at least kept him out of foul trouble, a situation that has affected his playing time often this season as he learns the differences between the European and NBA games.
"Every now and then you could say it's a questionable call, but he's fouling," Mitchell said. "He's hacking people, so he has to stop and figure out how to play defense without fouling so much because we need him on the floor."
• Wolves veteran Tayshaun Prince faced the team that drafted him 23rd overall in 2002. He played 792 career games with the Pistons during two stints, most recently last season.
• The Wolves held their morning shootaround at the team's practice facility rather than their usual spot, the Target Center court. Mitchell said the change had nothing to do with superstition or the team's winless home record, but was simply a matter of pragmatics: Most of their rehab and training equipment is at their practice facility. He said the team will shoot there more often now because of that.
• Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy talked with Flip Saunders about the Wolves' coaching job in 2014. Friday was Van Gundy's first visit to Target Center since Saunders died on Oct. 25 at age 60. "Knowing what happened, it is sort of strange coming in here," Van Gundy said.
Staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this report.