Blazers Fall Short In Homecoming Loss to Timberwolves

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Trail Blazers started a two-game, all-home back-to-back with a 109-107 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of a crowd of 16,422 Tuesday night at Moda Center.

Portland is now 20-27 overall and 14-12 at home this season. With the win, the Timberwolves lead the season series 2-0 with two games left to play.

The Trail Blazers led by as many as 13 points in the first half and took a 62-55 advantage into the intermission in their first game since returning from a 12-day, six-game road trip.

But after shooting better than 47 percent from both the field and from three in the first half, Portland went just 7-of-21 from the field and 3-of-10 from three in the third quarter. And while the Timberwolves weren’t much better from the field, they shot six more free throws and had two more field goals to outscore Portland by 10 to take a one-point advantage into the fourth.

“We kind of lost our way a little bit in the third quarter,” said Chauncey Billups. “They came out really aggressive, Anthony Edwards was a handful, he was making a lot of shots. (Towns) hurt us in our zone a little bit, usually you don’t have to play against shooting fives that shoot as well as he does. They spaced us out, made a couple plays. Then defensively, I thought they did a really good job, they put a lot of pressure on (Simons), on (McCollum) as well. It just wasn’t our night, for the most part.”

It looked as if the Timberwolves might win going away with guard/forward Anthony Edwards taking over the game in the fourth -- he put up 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the final eight minutes -- to put the visitors up by nine, though the Trail Blazers went on a 10-1 run, capped by a CJ McCollum 32-foot three, to tie the game at 107-107 with 10.5 seconds to play.

“We only had one (timeout) and I said ‘Let’s go down and try to get a quick one.,’” said Billups. “But I thought it was a really heads up play by (Powell) to get the ball up the floor, kick the ball up the floor to CJ and CJ got the room, hit a big time shot.”

But D’Angelo Russell managed to get around Anfernee Simons on the ensuing possession, forcing the Portland guard to goaltend the attempt with 2.9 seconds to play.

“We were in good position right there, (Russell) was able to get a step on Ant without even using a move,” said Billups. “I’m pretty sure if Ant could have a do-over he would play that a little bit differently. That’s a part of his development. He’s going to be in there that part of the game, we’re going to rely on him to make some of those defensive stops. Russell got a layup, you never want to give up a layup.”

Portland would get the last look after calling time, though Simons’ three-pointer was well off, and while Jusuf Nurkic got the rebound, he was unable to get up another attempt before time expired.

“It’s difficult because I’ve never been in that situation before,” said Simons. “Catching it with two seconds left you don’t how much time you have. They tell you it’s a lot of time but when you in it, you look up as soon as you catch it like ‘It might be at one second now’ or something like that.’ This whole game was a great learning experience.”

Jusuf Nurkic posted his sixth-straight double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds to go with four assists and a steal in 31 minutes. It is the longest double-double streak of the Bosnian’s career.

Nassir Little also finished with 20 points, albeit with eight rebounds and two assists in just under 29 minutes.

Anfernee Simons went 5-of-18 from the field and 4-of-13 from three for 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds. CJ McCollum went 5-of-15 from the field for 15 points, four points and a block in 38 minutes.

Anthony Edwards led all scorers with 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 shooting from the line. D’Angelo Russell finished with 22 points and Karl-Anthony Towns posted 17 points and 17 assists.

The Trail Blazers won’t have much time to stew on the loss with another contest, this time versus the Dallas Mavericks, less than 24 hours away. Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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