Blazers Get Hot Late, Beat Wolves 108-97

February 23, 2014 11:42 pm CST

The Timberwolves strolled into Moda Center on Sunday night and looked like they carried stored up momentum from their three-game winning streak. After all, the Wolves had beaten the East’s top team on Wednesday and used an energetic team-wide effort to beat the Jazz on Saturday night in Utah.

Through 20 minutes of Sunday’s game against the Blazers, it was more of the same for a Wolves team trying to win four straight for the first time this season and, in the process, get back to .500. They led by 18 at one point, shot a blistering rate from the field and had Portland off-balance offensively.

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Wolves at Blazers

And then…

“They got very physical,” coach Rick Adelman said. “Very physical.”

The Blazers started hitting shots, muscled their way into control and never looked back in a 108-97 win over Minnesota, securing a 3-1 season series victory over their Northwest Division rival. They did it without injured All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, thanks in large part to a healthy dose of Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum.

Lillard was sensational as usual. He finished with 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting and went through stretches in which he looked as though he simply couldn’t miss. The first-time All-Star got into a rhythm, and the Blazers followed suit.

The Wolves, coming off that game the night before in Utah, looked as fatigued as they’ve looked all season. Minnesota watched its 18-point lead turn into a 16-point deficit in a matter of a quarter and a half, and it wasn’t because of effort. It seemed as though the Blazers, energized by their fans and their aggressive play, simply were too much for the undermanned Wolves on the tail-end of a back-to-back.

“It definitely hurts—on a night like this, it just reminds us that we need all of our guys back,” forward Kevin Love said. “We needed our depth, even when they didn’t have everybody in the lineup tonight. It would have been nice to have them. But the second half was tough for us.”

Love once again put together a strong performance, particularly in the first half when the Wolves built led through the duration after taking a 6-4 lead. Love scored 31, and he was complemented well by guard J.J. Barea’s 21 points off the bench on 7-of-16 shooting.

The Wolves’ second-quarter lead swelled to double digits in the second quarter as Minnesota’s second unit continued to push it offensively while holding Portland to 2-of-9 shooting to start the frame.

But after a pair of Barea free throws pushed the lead to 18, the momentum changed. Wesley Matthews hit a 3, Robin Lopez hit an 11-foot jumper and Thomas Robinson began collecting rebounds and put-backs.

Suddenly, that 18-point lead was down to eight at the break.

In the third, Lillard and Nicolas Batum took over. They were each 4-of-5 from the field and had 10 points in that quarter alone, and they set the tone for the changing in momentum. It coincided with the Wolves hitting a wall.

By the 5:49 mark of the third, the Blazers tied the game at 71-71 thanks to a 19-11 run. With 2:10 to play in the third, a Batum 3-pointer put the Blazers up by two. They’d never look back.

While Batum was rolling, Lillard was showcasing why he was a first-time All-Star this year.

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Blazers 108, Wolves 97

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“He’s crafty. He’s very quick and he’s a great shooter,” Dante Cunningham said. “It’s one of those things that you need to show them something different. It might have been a little too late, but we tried.”

Along with Love’s 31 and Barea’s 21, Cunningham had 12 and Chase Budinger had eight. Ricky Rubio had 11 assists and five points, and Corey Brewer had six points.

For the Blazers, Lillard had 32, Batum had 22, Matthews had 17 and Thomas Robinson had 14.

The Wolves have an off day on Monday, then face the Suns on Tuesday in Phoenix.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Love gets the nod again tonight because he led the team with 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting, added 10 boards and again hit a couple 3-pointers. He put together his fifth straight 30-point game, which is a new franchise record passing Kevin Garnett’s mark of four. Love played a team-high 34:58 tonight at the center position and took on Robin Lopez, who continues to play a strong season at the 5 for the Blazers. He, like the rest of the team, did look gassed by the fourth quarter but they continued to push as best they could despite the Blazers pulling ahead in the second half and not looking back.

Highlight of the Night

At the 10:43 mark of the first quarter, Ricky Rubio drove to the basket and dished the ball off at the last second to a cutting Dante Cunningham in the lane. Rubio had seven assists in the first quarter alone and ended up with 11 on the night. That particular play showed something the Wolves had been doing a good job of over the last four games—great motion and ball movement.

The Numbers Game

  • Minnesota opened up the game shooting 8-of-9 from the field.

  • The Wolves were up 18 at 52-34 but let the Blazers go on a 32-15 at the end of the second and beginning of the third to cut the lead to one.

  • The Wolves have now lost 16 of their last 17 in Portland.

  • Kevin Love recorded his fifth straight 30-point game, which is a new franchise record. Kevin Garnett previously held the record with four straight 30-point efforts.

  • Looking Ahead

    The Timberwolves are off tomorrow and have a travel day to Phoenix, where they’ll begin preparation for their Tuesday night game against the Suns at US Airways Center. That game is set for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. After that, the Wolves are off until Saturday, when they’ll take on the Kings in Sacramento.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.