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Blazers Bounce Back Against Butler-Less Timberwolves

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Portland cruised past Minnesota to claim a 111-81 victory on the second night of a back-to-back.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers recovered from Saturday’s loss with a dominating performance against the Timberwolves. Portland controlled the paint, and opened up a insurmountable double-digit halftime lead that eventually resulted in a 111-81 win. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic combined for 53 points in the victory. The Butler-less Wolves struggled to slow down a Blazers squad that was firing on all cylinders for long stretches. Thanks to a 28-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Portland’s regulars got some much needed rest on the second night of a back-to-back.

One & Done

Portland’s rebounding against Minnesota was a thing of beauty throughout the night. Jusuf Nurkic got things going early by nabbing nine boards (three offensive) in the first half. Along with creating second chance points, the Blazers also limited the Timberwolves to multiple one-shot possessions.

Portland decided to go with bigger lineups to counter Minnesota’s traditional frontcourt pairings, and Zach Collins’ versatility paid immediate dividends. The only thing more impressive than the Blazers’ 34-19 halftime rebounding advantage was their ability to record 65 points with only 3 three-pointers made.

Portland finished the night with a superb 66-38 rebounding advantage.

Foot on the Accelerator

After bludgeoning Minnesota on the glass, Portland put the game out of reach with its crisp offense in the third quarter. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum relentlessly attacked their defenders off the dribble, and found high percentage looks as a result. Tyus Jones and Josh Okogie have bright NBA futures, but they were no match for Portland’s established backcourt duo in this contest.

The Blazers opened a 28-point lead thanks to a 12-23 shooting performance in the third quarter. Due to the comfortable margin, Portland’s starters got some much-needed rest after a grueling week of games.

A Complete Beast

Along with his work on the glass, Nurkic looked unstoppable at times tonight. He gave the Wolves fits by staying patient in the post. Nurkic effortlessly split double teams, passed out of trouble, and connected on shots over taller opponents. As a facilitator, the big fella had his timing dialed in. He hit Lillard on a pair of cuts through the lane, and completed a gorgeous outlet pass that would make Wes Unseld proud.

Nurkic was composed throughout his time on the court. Karl-Anthony Towns recorded 23 points, but he was hampered by Nurkic-induced foul trouble in the first quarter. In 23 minutes of work, the Bosnian Beast finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Meet the Cast

Buoyed by his work at the free throw line, Meyers Leonard recorded 10 points in the first half. Through two quarters, Leonard went a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. He finished with 15 points, and remained perfect on his 8 free throw attempts.

Collins recorded 11 points on just 5 shots from the field. Like Leonard, he was perfect from the free throw line.

Despite a forgettable first shot, Gary Trent Jr. notched his first NBA basket. Trent finished with seven minutes of playing time due to Portland’s big lead.

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The Blazers will get a day off before facing Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Tuesday.


—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com