The Blazers, looking for their first 4-game winning streak of the season, take on a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team. Portland overcomes a slow start and locks down defensively in the fourth to knock off the Wolves, 96-93. On a night the outside shot wasn't falling, the Blazers use a strong effort by the bench and some solid team defense to pull away in the fourth quarter.
The Blazers were led by CJ McCollum with 21 points and Damian Lillard with 21 points and 8 assists. The Timberwolves were led by Karl-Anthony Town with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Ever have one of the lazy Sunday's where you have chores to do but you just can't seem to muster the energy to do it? That was the Blazers through much of the first quarter as they were slow in every aspect of the game both offensively and defensively. Luckily, the Blazers' bench knew the correct start time and injected some much needed energy into the arena. Allen Crabbe and Gerald Henderson spearheaded an 8-0 run to end the quarter. Damian Lillard appeared to be favoring his right ankle on an apparent roll of the ankle, but Portland and Minnesota were even after one.
End of First: Portland 21, Minnesota 21
The Blazers and Wolves continued to slog through most of the quarter while the Moda Center crowd took a well deserved siesta. Meyers Leonard hit a three to break an 0-for-9 slump for Portland from beyond he arc and the Blazers began to establish something of an offensive rhythm. While the Blazers continued to shoot the ball to a respectable percentage, Minnesota continued to struggle even has Karl-Anthony Town showcased why he is the easy front runner for Rookie of the Year with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in the first half. However, a 10-2 advantage on the offensive boards for Minnesota kept the Wolves within reach as Portland took their largest lead of the game into the second half.
Halftime: Portland 48, Minnesota 39
The Timberwolves made a run early and the Blazers couldn't build on the momentum they worked for at the end of the first half. Towns continued to be a wolf among pups for his team, with a dunk here, a block there and a hook shot there, he was worth the price of admission alone. With the exception of Meyers Leonard, the Blazers continued to misfire anything beyond 22 feet and Minnesota noticeably clamped defensively on the Blazers. CJ McCollum led Portland in the third but it was the Timberwolves who took the lead heading into the fourth.
End of Third: Portland 63, Minnesota 65
Gerald Henderson, as he did in the first quarter, provided some much needed spark in the fourth as did Al-Farouq Aminu and the Blazers took the lead back early. Portland grabbed a 10 point lead with 5 minutes remaining on a Damian Lillard three. The Blazers tightened up their own defense and hit the boards with more effort to keep the Timberwolves at a distance the rest of the game, despite a late surge. In the end, Portland wins its fourth straight.
The Blazers are back home Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.