Notebook: Trail Blazers 102, Timberwolves 97



Posted Jan 5, 2013 11:59 PM

By Jim Beilby, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Minnesota Timberwolves were missing a bunch of key pieces and the Portland Trail Blazers seemingly could not miss a shot, securing a 102-97 win on Saturday night. Minnesota almost pulled off a tremendous comeback, though, scoring a season high 36 fourth quarter points, but couldn't close it in the end.

Despite playing on the road and playing for the fourth time in five nights, Portland (18-15) led by as much as 22 points and, for most of the game, seemingly could not miss from beyond the arc. They made a season high 16 3-pointers and shot 66.7 percent. Their 16 3-pointers also tied a franchise record. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews each scored 26 and Batum was 5-for-6 from 3 and 9-for-11 from the field, overall.

With Ricky Rubio missing his fourth straight game with back spasms, Minnesota's day went from bad to worse when they found out that Kevin Love had suffered a re-fracture of his third metacarpal in his right hand. The injury was sustained during the third quarter of Thursday's game at Denver and was diagnosed following an MRI taken this afternoon.

In Love's absence, Nikola Pekovic played admirably, outscoring Portland's entire front court with his 21 points and grabbing 15 rebounds (including eight offensive). But even he succumbed to the injury curse apparently plaguing Minnesota (15-15), going out in the third quarter with a hip injury. And not even 18 fourth quarter points by Derrick Williams were enough to give Minnesota the victory.

QUOTABLE: "Yeah, we had it rolling [from 3-point range] tonight. Some of them were tough, some were wide open -- good execution, good passing -- but if you shoot the 3 that well you should win by more than five."

-- Portland coach Terry Stotts

THE STAT: Despite missing Love, Minnesota dominated the boards and the paint. They led Portland 44-22 in points in the paint and 60-45 in rebounds. It was Portland's 3-point shooting that made the difference. Portland came into the game shooting 33.4 percent from beyond the arc, 26th in the league. Tonight they made 16-for-24 (66.7 percent). Minnesota, by comparison, made 5-for-16, a 33 point differential -- just in terms of made 3-pointers.

TURNING POINT: Portland built a lead in the first half with a 21-4 run bridging the first and second quarters. And they led by as many as 22 (with 4:06 to play in the fourth quarter) when Minnesota began their comeback, going on a 26-8 run over a little under nine minutes in the fourth quarter. But Minnesota went cold at the end, missing eight straight shots.

QUOTABLE II: "I just hope this game thought our guys a lesson because for the first three quarters we hung our heads, we didn't make shots, we didn't do things and we didn't compete like we had to compete. I don't care who is hurt, who is out, whatever it is, that is not who we are. The last nine minutes that is how we have to play."

--Wolves coach Rick Adelman

ROOKIE WATCH: Tonight's game featured two of the top rookie guards in the league. Portland guard Damian Lillard ranks first among rookies in scoring (18.2 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg). Minnesota guard Alexey Shved is fifth in scoring (11.1 ppg) and second in assists (4.6 apg). Lillard had the best of it tonight, outscoring Shved 20-2.

NOTABLE: Portland has defeated Minnesota in 18 of their last 20 contests, including a 103-95 win in Portland on November 23. ... Portland comes into tonight's game winners of nine of their last 12 games and currently hold the seventh spot in the Western conference. ... With one steal and two assists tonight, Andrei Kirilenko needs just one steals to reach 1,000 and one assists to reach 2,000. ... When he does so, he will be one of only 15 players in league history to collect 2,000 assists, 1,000 steals, and 1,000 blocks in his career.

QUOTABLE III: "I've never been through anything like this. You start out with Ricky [Rubio being out] from the very beginning, hoping to get him back, and then its been one thing after another. Kevin [Love] has been out twice now. ... But this team does have a resolve about them. Whatever happens, they come to practice, they come to the games, they do their job."

-- Rick Adelman

UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Tuesday vs. Atlanta, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City, Friday @ New Orleans. For the Blazers, Monday vs. Orlando, Thursday vs. Miami, Friday @ Golden State.