The Portland Trail Blazers were defeated by the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-93 on Friday evening. The Blazers struggled to find any momentum early in the game. The Timberwolves were able to take control with a massive early advantage that they never relinquished.
Portland was led in scoring by Jabari Walker, who scored 17 points and recorded a career-high 13 rebounds.
Minnesota was led by their big men, with Rudy Gobert scoring 24 points and Karl Anthony-Towns recording 23. Gobert also grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.
In case you missed the game, and I hope you did, here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown:
The game opened with a familiar sight for the Blazers: unanswered baskets from their opponent. The Timberwolves made their first three shots of the game, all from behind the arc, to jump out to an early 11-0 advantage. Portland was finally able to get its first point almost three minutes into the game.
Unfortunately, it did not get any better from there. Minnesota continued their hot shooting from the field, showcasing their league-best defense to force the Blazers into a massive early deficit. Portland finally exceeded 10 points almost 9 minutes into the first quarter. At that point the Timberwolves were already way ahead with a 29-11 lead.
Missed shots continued to plague the Blazers throughout the quarter, but solid defensive play from some bench contributors, including Matisse Thybulle and Ibou Badji, helped quell Minnesota’s offense. Some late fouls from Portland allowed the Timberwolves to extend their lead with easy opportunities at the free throw line. The Blazers trailed 36-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Portland was able to gain some momentum in the opening minutes of the second quarter. A couple Minnesota turnovers helped the Blazers go on a 10-0 run. Jerami Grant made a pair of 3-pointers as Portland tried to shoot its way back into a suddenly-close game.
A put-back dunk from Badji with 6:23 left in the quarter brought the lead back down to 46-36, the smallest deficit since the opening minutes of the game. Strong offensive rebounding helped the Blazers capitalize on their missed shots and led to easy attempts at the rim.
Portland’s success would be short-lived as Rudy Gobert began cleaning up the offensive glass, and earning himself easy baskets as a reward. He went on a personal 6-0 run to give Minnesota a 56-39 advantage with two minutes left in the first half. A couple late baskets from the Timberwolves brought the lead up to 63-42 heading into halftime.
The Timberwolves were able to take advantage of the shallow Blazers front court, which led to a 34-14 advantage in the paint. Portland also had some trouble taking care of the ball as they recorded nine turnovers in the first half.
Both side got off to slow starts to the second half. Missed shots and strong defense meant that the lead stayed consistent throughout the opening minutes. Minnesota extended their lead with a 7-0 run to take a 72-46 edge with just over seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
Turnovers continued to be an issue for Portland, allowing the Timberwolves to increase their lead with little resistance from the Blazers. The margin reached 30 points at 82-52 after a pair of free throws from Gobert with four minutes left in the quarter.
Anfernee Simons found no success from the field. Through three quarters he had missed all eight of his shots. His five points csme at the free throw line.
Minnesota led 88-57 heading into the final quarter.
The Timberwolves began the fourth quarter by extending their lead further with an 8-0 run. If there was any doubt remaining about the outcome of the game, that run removed it.
Both Portland and Minnesota emptied their benches with about nine minutes left, and that was it.
Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis coming soon.
The Blazers have a day off before returning home to face the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, January 14 at 6:00 PM, Pacific.