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Wolves Make It Three Straight At Home With Dominant Win Against Portland

by Katie Davidson
Digital Content Associate

Good evening. Your Minnesota Timberwolves have won three straight games at home.

The Wolves came into Thursday’s game with a 14-22 record, good for 12th in the Western Conference standings, while their opponents, the Portland Trail Blazers (T-Blazers if you’re feeling wild), were 10th in the standings and one game ahead of the Wolves.

And in Thursday night’s race to eighth place, the Wolves left the T-Blazers in the dust.

The Wolves improved to 15-22 on the season after earning a dominant 116-102 win over Portland who shot an abysmal 36.5% from the field. The Wolves joined the short list of teams that have held Portland to below 40% shooting this season (OKC, Toronto, New York Knicks, San Antonio and Los Angeles Clippers have also accomplished this feat).

After the first quarter, the Wolves outscored the T-Blazers 88-68 and 72-40 in the second and third quarters. It was pretty clear early on that the T-Blazers did not want to be spending their Thursday night in Minnesota, where they wrapped up a five-game road trip, but the Wolves never matched their guests’ lackadaisical play and continued to throw the punches throughout the night.

Maybe the win was inspired by the talented guests who were in the house Thursday night.

Whatever it was, it was just a stress-free night at Target Center that featured a whole lot of Wolves scoring.

The Wolves shot 40.6% from 3-point range (nine Wolves players made at least one 3) and 49.4% from the field. Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves in scoring with 23 points on an efficient 9-for-15 shooting from the field. I think I’ve shared this stat 59 times now, but Wiggins has scored more career points against the T-Blazers (465) than any other team in the league. It was great to see Wiggins’ efficiency rise but even better to see him add eight assists to his stat line. At one point in the game, Wiggins had more assists (8) than the T-Blazers (7). An attacking Wiggins surrounded by hot shooters plus relentless defense makes for a lethal Wolves team.

Wiggins did retreat to his midrange shot a little more than usual, and this was somewhat expected since the T-Blazers planted rim protector Hassan Whiteside deep in the paint. But Whiteside or no Whiteside, head coach Ryan Saunders and his staff weren’t pleased and had Wiggins return to the system. That’s my one nitpick for his night.

Robert Covington, Gorgui Dieng, Jarrett Culver, Keita Bates-Diop and Jeff Teague also finished with double-digit scoring figures, and Josh Okogie was an impressive 2-for-2 from 3-point range. A lot of players’ confidence should have been boosted on the offensive end.

Well, at least for Wolves players. The T-Blazers most dangerous scorers, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony shot a combined 15-for-39 from the field and 6-for-17 from deep. Covington played like the All-Defensive player that he is and was a constant nuisance for Portland’s offense. The T-Blazers also struggled to get much out of their pick-and-roll offense after the Wolves found success switching on most screens.

The Wolves also did much better on the defensive rebounds, which is something Saunders harped on at Thursday’s shootaround. The Wolves grabbed 41 defensive rebounds to Portland’s 27. Bates-Diop led the way with seven defensive rebounds while Dieng recorded a team-high 10 total rebounds.

Minnesota’s next chance to rise in the Western Conference standings will come on Saturday when they face the Rockets in Houston at 4 p.m. CT. You can tune in on Fox Sports North or 830 WCCO.

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