Trail Blazers Go Big In Second Half To Pull Away From Timberwolves

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

PORTLAND -- After the Trail Blazers and Timberwolves fought to a duel in the first half of Wednesday night's game at the Moda Center, Portland scored a season-best 43 points in the third quarter, paving the way for a 123-114 victory in front of a crowd of 18,920.

"The ball was moving, guys were making shots, bigs were finishing around the basket, pushed it a little bit in transition," said Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum of the team's performance in the third quarter. "Basically scored in every way."

With the win, the Trail Blazers improve to 26-22 overall and 14-10 at home this season while also ending a two-game losing streak to the Timberwolves. Portland has now win their last seven home games and 11 of their last 12 versus Minnesota at the Moda Center.

"Really a good game," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Offensively, we had it going. Obviously the third quarter was a really productive third quarter. We never really got on track defensively, although I thought we did make some good defensive plays... But I liked our consistency throughout the game, especially on the offensive end."

Even with Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler sitting out Wednesday night's game with a sore knee, it looked in the early going that the Trail Blazers might not be able to stop Minnesota. Timberwolves led by as many as eight points in the first quarter while forward Andrew Wiggins went 5-of-6 from the field for 11 points.

But even though the Timberwolves shot nine percentage points better from the field in the first half, the Trail Blazers went 7-of-17 from three and out-shot Minnesota 10-3 at the free throw line, which allowed the home team to tie the game at 54-54 going into the intermission.

And from there, it was all Trail Blazers. Portland went 14-of-21 from the field, 7-of-9 from three and 8-of-10 from the line on the way to outscoring Minnesota by 13 in the third quarter, and that was despite the Timberwolves shooting 59 percent from the field. Damian Lillard scored 13 of his 31 points in the third while playing the entire quarter.

“I think in the last two years, that’s probably the best quarter," said Lillard. "When we watch film and we’re in training camp and stuff like that, if we could just watch that whole quarter, in training camp they would say 'This how we want to play, this is how the ball needs to move, this is how we need to screen, this is the pace we need to have and what’s going to allow us to do it is defending the way we did.' That was a showcase, it was a great display of Blazer basketball.”

That display didn't abate much in the fourth quarter, as Portland went 11-of-16 from the field and 3-of-5 from three to finish out the win. They took their largest lead of the game after a McCollum three put the Trail Blazers up 121-102 with 3:40 to play in regulation. About 40 seconds later, Pat Connaughton got his third dunk of the night with 3:02 to play, which prompted Stotts to put in his deep bench to play out the remainder of the contest.

"I thought we played with great energy," said Lillard. "We flew around on the defensive end. Even at the start of the game when they were making shots, I thought our energy was good energy. We moved the ball and I thought it was just a complete effort. Our team didn’t get discouraged in the first quarter when they was just making shots over us. We just stayed with it but we played the kind of game we wanted to play from an effort standpoint and focus."

TOP SCORERS

The Trail Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, who celebrated being named to the 2018 All-Star team by scoring a game-high 31 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, 6-of-11 shooting from three and 7-of-7 shooting from the free throw line while also adding six assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes. The 6-3 point guard out of Weber State has now scored at least 25 points 165 times, trailing only Clyde Drexler (284) for the most such games in franchise history.

CJ McCollum went 12-of-20 from the field and 4-of-5 from three for 28 points, five assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu went 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from three for 15 points to go with seven assists in 26 minutes.

“It’s an up and down league," said Stotts. "Obviously CJ and Chief struggled shooting the ball in Denver and it came back today. They both shot it really well. I thought our ball movement was pretty good, I don’t know if the assists showed that but Dame was in a good rhythm, Chief was taking advantage of the fact that they really collapsed in the paint and he was spotting up. Defensively, he continues to take the challenge of guarding premier post players."

Pat Connaughton went 5-of-9 from the field, with a couple of those coming courtesy of alley-oop dunks, and 2-of-3 from three for 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes.

"We all know (Connaughton) can jump," said Damian Lillard, who threw a no-look alley-oop to the Notre Dame product in the fourth quarter. "We see him do it all the time. To see him do it in a game, I always wonder what the other team is thinking, when they’re like this white dude is up here? I’m sure on the scouting report he’s a shooter and a hard right-hand drive driver but I always wonder what they think when they see him catching lobs and he’s one of our most explosive players. It’s impressive. It’s fun to watch."

Ed Davis put up a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes while also tallying two assists.

Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 19 points in 20 minutes.

LISTEN UP

NOTABLE

• Portland won its seventh consecutive game at Moda Center, extending the longest home winning streak of the season.

• The Trail Blazers scored over 100 points for the 13th game in a row, extending the longest streak of the season.

• CJ McCollum scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 28 points (12-20 FG, 4-5 3-PT, 0-2 FT), three rebounds and five assists. McCollum’s 12 made field goals are tied for the second-most he has had in a game this season (14, Nov. 7 vs. Memphis).

• The Trail Blazers shot a season best 54.9% from the field (45-of-82) and had their second-most accurate game from behind the three-point line, shooting 54.8% from deep (17-of-31).

• Portland had 24 assists while Minnesota finished with 20 assists.

• Ed Davis recorded his third double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points (3-3 FG, 5-7 FT) and 10 rebounds. It was his third straight game with 10 rebounds.

• The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Timberwolves, 37-33.

• The Trail Blazers scored 43 points in the third quarter, their highest-scoring quarter of the season.

• Pat Connaughton scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting (2-3 3-PT) in 22 minutes off the bench. It was the 10th game this season that Connaughton has scored in double figures.

• Evan Turner had nine points (4-6 FG), six assists and two steals.

• Zach Collins had eight points (3-4 FG, 2-3 3-PT) and five rebounds. It was the first time in his career that Collins has made multiple three-pointers.

QUOTABLE

"I think this one is a little bit different. Because I'm on a different team, I'm in a different role on this team, so I kind of had to go get it. I had to wait my turn. But the first one is also special. It's my first time there, but I'm also there with Kobe (Bryant) and Tim Duncan and all those guys. That was a pretty cool experience. This one is different, but they've all be special." -- Damian Lillard on being named a Western Conference all-star

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers play two games, both on the road, over the next six days starting with their second game of the season versus the Dallas Mavericks Friday night at American Airlines Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest and NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM.