The Portland Trail Blazers suffered their worst loss of the young season on Sunday night in Minneapolis, falling to the re-energized Minnesota Timberwolves by a final score of 114-96. The Blazers have now lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Portland got off to an extremely sluggish start and never really recovered, as the Wolves took a double-digit lead into halftime and never looked back for the wire-to-wire win. Andrew Wiggins was one of six Minnesota players to score 10 or more, and led all scorers in the game with 23 points. CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 18.
Fire and Ice
For much of the night, the Blazers couldn’t hit water with a boat. Meanwhile the Wolves knocked down shot after shot, particularly from distance. Portland shot 42% overall and a paltry 28% from three-point land while the Wolves finished 50% from the field and 43% from deep.
As much as the poor shooting hurt the Blazers tonight, the most disappointing aspect of the game was the Timberwolves playing like they wanted it more. The Blazers, who have struggled taking care of the ball all season long, committed 18 turnovers on the night, including an abysmal 13 in the first half alone. The Wolves took advantage, scoring 22 points off of Portland’s miscues.
Minnesota was also able able to dominate the offensive glass early on, recording eight offensive rebounds in the first half to lead to a bevy of second chance points. Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson each had three.
The New Guys
Robert Covington and Dario Saric, whom the Wolves acquired from the 76ers in the Jimmy Butler trade, appear to fit in just fine with their new teammates. Covington got the start and scored 14 points, with five rebounds and three steals, while Saric had nine points and seven boards off the bench. Saric started strong but cooled off, finishing 3-9 from the field but Covington was red-hot throughout the night, shooting 5-7, including 4-6 from distance.
All Hands On Deck
In addition to Wiggins’ 23 points, five other Wolves scored in double figures, including all five starters. Of the nine Minnesota players to log more than one minute in the game, all of them hit at least two shots. Derrick Rose had a huge game off the bench, scoring 17 points in 34 minutes while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists. Towns scored 14 and led the team with nine total rebounds.
While McCollum and Lillard combined for 34 points, the real story offensively tonight for Portland, at least among the starters, was Jusuf Nurkic. The Bosnian Beast was extremely aggressive early on, tallying 13 points and six rebounds in the first half. He finished with the 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Blazers also got solid contributions from their bench, led by the 10 points and five rebounds from Meyers Leonard, who continues to take care of business. Anfernee Simons took the spot of the injured Seth Curry in the rotation and had seven points on 3-7 shooting in 13 minutes. Fellow rookie Gary Trent Jr. was excellent in garbage time, hitting two threes and finishing with a highly efficient eight points in six minutes.
The Blazers look to get back in track in our nation’s capital on Sunday with a matinee match-up against the Washington Wizards. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 pm PT.