The Portland Trail Blazers looked sluggish and out of sync Friday, falling behind early and then being hardly competitive before getting blown out by the new look Minnesota Timberwolves 112-96 on the road. The loss marks just the first back-to-back defeat so far this season, and drops Portland to 10-5 overall.
It was an ugly game pretty much from buzzer to buzzer, but while Minnesota eventually woke up and played some decent basketball, Portland never found any rhythm. The Blazers shot a paltry 43% from the floor and was even more careless with the basketball, coughing up 18 turnovers - some in bizarrely reckless fashion.
Portland tried to make a game of it early in the second half, closing within five points midway through the third quarter, but Minnesota dominated the rest of the way and barricaded any door the Blazers might have hoped were left open.
Random thoughts and takeaways:
Bad Luck Blazers. Looking at just this season, Minnesota’s jettison of Jimmy Butler probably couldn’t have gone any worse for the Blazers. Instead of accumulating future draft picks and riding out the season with a squad that had been thus far mostly unimpressive, the Wolves acquired two very capable role players in Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Suddenly, Minny has gone from laughingstock to balanced and intriguing.
Covington out-Aminu’d Aminu. The newcomers haven’t waited long to make an impact. Covington scored 14 points, including four threes and was a pest on defense all night, snatching up three steals and disrupting a good deal of the Portland’s offense. His arrival gives Minnesota even more ridiculous length along with a defensive tenacity previously missing. Saric wasn’t much of a factor in this one, but he’s already earned somewhat of a bona-fide Blazer-Killer reputation in Philadelphia and is sure to become a thorn in their sides again eventually.
Mighty Mouse. With a pretty pick-and-roll pass to Jusuf Nurkic midway through the second quarter, Damian Lillard tallied his fourth assist of the night and 3019th of his career, passing Damon Stoudamire and moving into third place on the Blazers’ All-Time leaders list. Dame still has close to another 2000 to go before the next benchmark in that category - a guy with the name of Clyde Drexler - but he looks well on his way to carving a very special name into Portland’s history books.
It’ll be the Blazers’ turn for a little revenge Sunday afternoon when they pay a visit to the Washington Wizards.