– Timberwolves veteran forward Tayshaun Prince returned Thursday to the Palace of Auburn Hills, the arena he called home for nearly 11 of his 14 NBA seasons. Unlike Kobe Bryant, he's not ready, at age 35, to call it a farewell tour.

Prince played a pivotal part in Wednesday's home victory over Utah because of his defensive acumen and presence. He has played more minutes — 20 a game — than anybody expected, including himself.

"I didn't think it'd fold out like this," he said when asked if he envisioned his season unfolding like it has when Flip Saunders signed him last summer. "When most people talk about a guy being done, they think nine times of 10 from the offensive side of the floor. Guys like myself and [former Detroit teammate] Ben Wallace and there are some other guys could play forever if they wanted to because they do so many things without needing the basketball.

"When people tell me I'm done, I look at them like they're crazy because throughout my whole career when we won, and even when we didn't win, the things I did on the floor didn't show up in the stat sheet. No matter what, I can still impact the game, and I know I can still do that for a long time."

On Thursday, he said hello to Detroit again.

"Obviously, there's new players, new management here," he said.

"I know it's probably weird for some of the fans to see me in a different uniform, but it's always good to come back."

Martin remains out

Wolves veteran guard Kevin Martin sat out his fifth consecutive game Thursday, each by coach's decision.

"K-Mart's been great, he has been a total pro," interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "I'm not saying I won't play him, but I need to play these young guys. Milt [Newton, the team's GM] and I made a decision where we need to give some of these young guys an opportunity to play."

Etc.

• Kevin Garnett sat out Thursday's game, the second night of back-to-back games in which he seldom plays. Gorgui Dieng started in his place at power forward.

• Prince's return wasn't the Wolves' only homecoming. Timberwolves vice president of sports performance Arnie Kander dispensed his remedies and elixirs during his 23 seasons with the Pistons.

• Pistons GM/coach Stan Van Gundy on any discussions he had with Saunders about the Wolves' coaching opening when he was in between jobs a couple of years back: "Flip was in Orlando, his daughters were in a dance competition there. I lived in Orlando. We got together for lunch. It was nothing more than that, just very casual conversation about where they were headed and what he was thinking. It was never talking to me about the job."