Trail Blazers Finish Four-Game Trip Sunday Versus Timberwolves

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers wrap up a four-game, Western Conference road trip Sunday night in Minneapolis with a nationally-televised game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

After starting the trip off with arguably their best win of the season, a 117-106 victory versus the Thunder Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, the Trail Blazers have dropped their last two games.

Portland had opportunities to come away with a win in their most recent loss, a 119-113 defeat to the Pelicans Friday night at Smoothie King Center, though shooting 1-of-10 from three and New Orleans forward Anthony Davis going for 16 points in the fourth quarter scuttled any chance of Portland picking up what would have been their 13th road victory this season.

"I was pleased with the way we came back from the first half to make it a game," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "The third quarter we played very well, moved the ball, made good shots. Fourth quarter, we had our chances. We had some good looks that we weren’t able to convert on, and had a couple turnovers that cost us, but defensively we gave up too many. Davis had an outstanding game and we didn’t control very well off the dribble in either half which led to a lot of shots at the rim for them."

All five of Portland's starters finished with at least 17 points in the loss, though the bench was outscored 27-12, partially due to Shabazz Napier starting in place of Evan Turner, who missed Friday's loss due to illness.

As for the Timberwolves, they enter Sunday's game as one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to winning their last four games by an average of 18.0 points. Power forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves in points (23), rebounds (15) and assists (9) in their most recent win, a 118-108 victory versus the New York Knicks Friday night at the Target Center.  Sunday's game will be the last of a five-game homestand for the Timberwolves.

Not only is Minnesota currently playing some of the best basketball in the NBA, they also won the first meeting versus Portland 108-107 back on December 18 in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves, behind the play of Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford, had to rally from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

"We've got to go out there and compete," said CJ McCollum, who finished with 20 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals in the first game versus the Timberwolves this season. "They're a good team, they're playing really well right now and it's going to be a very competitive game like it was last time."

Sunday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. The game will also air nationally on ESPN. Scott Lynn, who is filling in for Brian Wheeler, and Casey Holdahl will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.