After a highly entertaining first half in which both teams shot at least 50% from three-point land, the Portland Trail Blazers looked in position to handily beat the Minnesota Timberwolves. But a late Wolves run brought the game down to the wire, where Jimmy Butler hit two late free throws to steal a win, and send Portland home with a 3-2 road trip. Some essentials from tonight’s game:
- Sharing is caring. Behind Lillard’s passing prowess (he finished with 17 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds), the Blazers moved the ball around crisply tonight, finding open shooters who found the bottom of the net. It was a near-complete performance that has been rare this season. It unfortunately wasn’t enough to overcome the much-improved Timberwolves.
- Giving away late leads like it’s Christmas. Yet again, Portland built up a lead, tonight a 10-point buffer in the fourth quarter. But the shots stopped falling, and the turnovers appeared. Minnesota did just enough to stay close for three quarters, then made the key plays down the stretch. Portland survived a couple late-game swoons on this road trip. This time, it bit the Blazers in the end.
- No blood, no foul. The Blazers shot 5 free throws all night, including just 1 for Lillard. Meanwhile, the Wolves took 21 attempts. Multiple Blazers brought up the discrepancy in postgame, including an upset Lillard:
Damian Lillard as angry and irritated as I've seen in the postgame locker room about the foul discrepancy in Blazers' loss to Timberwolves.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 19, 2017
The Blazers attempted just 5 FTs and he attempted 1.
Minnesota attempted 21.
- Jamal Crawford strikes again. Long a thorn in Portland’s side since his ill-fated stint in the Rose City, Crawford and Jimmy Butler torched the Blazers for a combined 60 points, including multiple fourth-quarter momentum-stoppers.
The Blazers return home to face the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Stay tuned for more analysis on tonight’s game from Blazer’s Edge.