Photo / Bruce Ely

Road Trip Ends With Lopsided Defeat At Minnesota

by Cody Sharrett

Perhaps the most difficult road trip of the Portland Trial Blazers’ (22-21) season ended on a sour note Sunday night, as the Blazers fell, 120-103, to the Minnesota Timberwolves (29-16) in front of 14,739 fans at Target Center in Minneapolis. 

The Blazer offense came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, shooting 13-of-21 from the field in the first quarter led by Shabazz Napier’s nine points to put Portland up 33-31 after one. The momentum stalled, however, as Minnesota started the second on a 14-2 run. The Blazers converted just one of their first ten attempts in the quarter, with a pair of Evan Turner free throws at the 4:40 mark snapping the home side’s run. Overall, Portland shot just 2-of-15 in the second to go into the break at a 57-43 disadvantage. 

After falling behind by 24 in the opening minutes of the second half, Portland rattled off a 16-3 run to cut the Timberwolves’ lead to 12 led by CJ McCollum and Pat Connaughton’s combined 19 points in the quarter. Minnesota responded with a 5-0 run to close the third, going into the final period up 91-74. 

Despite Connaughton’s continued hot shooting, the Timberwolves would extend their lead to 26 in the fourth. The tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler combined for 16 points to open the fourth and extend Minnesota’s win streak at Target Center to eight games and hand Portland the lopsided defeat. 

TOP SCORERS

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 21 points and eight assists in the defeat, while his backcourt partner CJ McCollum added 18 points on 7-of-15 from the field. Pat Connaughton shot 7-of-13, including a 4-of-8 mark from three-point territory to lead the bench with 18 points. 

All five Minnesota starters scored in double figures, led by Jimmy Butler’s 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Point guard Jeff Teague registered 22 points and eight assists, while Karl-Anthony Towns supplied a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins and Taj Gibson scored 17 points and 12 points, respectively, to round out the Timberwolves’ first unit. 

QUOTABLE

"It’s tough to win an NBA game when you put yourself in a real hole." -- Pat Connaughton on the second quarter.

NOTABLE 

- Damian Lillard joined Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson as the only players in NBA history to make at least 100 three-pointers in each of their first six seasons. 

- Lillard and CJ McCollum became the third teammates to each make 100 three-pointers this year (Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson and James Harden/Eric Gordon/Trevor Ariza).

UP NEXT

The Trail Blazers travel back to Portland to host the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at Moda Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.