Forward Kevin Love finished one assist shy of a triple-double and
center Nikola Pekovic finished one point shy of his career best in a
120-109 victory over a Portland team playing its fourth game in five
Love had 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists and Pekovic hit 14
of 19 shots for 30 points for the Wolves, who built a huge lead
early then held off a spirited 3-point-fueled comeback attempt by
the Blazers (22-5), whose five-game winning streak came to an end.
"We felt we'd tricked one off in Boston," Love said of his team's
listless loss to the Celtics on Monday night. "We wanted to come
with effort tonight. It was nice to have a day off, then catch a
team playing a fourth game in five nights."
With exquisite ball movement and relentless pounding inside, the
Wolves (13-13) built a 32-point lead in the second quarter, still
led by 26 at halftime, then endured a comeback led by guards Damian
Lillard (36 points) and Nicolas Batum (20) and forward LaMarcus
Lillard scored 26 points in the second half for the Blazers, who
pulled within 10 points late in the third quarter and within five on
Batum's trey with 46 seconds left in the game. Batum hit 7 of 14
3-point shots and the Blazers tossed up 40 treys overall.
But, each time, the Wolves turned the Blazers back.
"This is a good win, one we had to get," Wolves coach Rick Adelman
said. "And it came against a team playing great."
Guard Kevin Martin added 22 points for the Wolves, and guard J.J.
Barea came off the bench to score 10. But the Wolves' bread and
butter Wednesday was the paint, where they scored 72 points on
36-of-51 shooting (70.6 percent). Ball movement got Pekovic open,
and the Blazers' 20 turnovers got the Wolves' break going.
It all started early.
Love had six points, nine rebounds and five assists in the first
quarter, which Minnesota finished on an 11-4 run to take a
nine-point lead. And then the second quarter happened. Love had 11
points and Pekovic nine as the Wolves opened the quarter with a 31-8
run to take a 62-30 lead on Pekovic's layup with 4:52 left in the
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"Obviously the first half was terrible," Portland coach Terry
Stotts said. "Minnesota played terrific. They had everything
going. We gave up too much and dug too deep of a hole."
But they almost didn't, because Portland responded with the
Lillard hit on 4 of 6 3-pointers in the third quarter, scoring
17 points as the Blazers chipped away at the Wolves' lead.
Center Joel Freeland's layup with 3:34 left in the quarter made
it 80-70. But Love scored his team's next seven points and Barea
had two 3-pointers as the Wolves finished the quarter on an 18-8
The Blazers weren't done. Lillard, relentless, kept letting it
fly. His 3-pointer with 2:04 left got the lead down to nine.
With 45 seconds left, Batum's trey made it a five-point game.
But the Wolves scored the final six points to seal their first
win vs. Portland in eight tries.
It was closer, perhaps, than it should have been.
"It says how much we've grown," said Lillard, who scored 36
points for the second time in two nights. "We had a great effort
to finish the game. But we didn't deserve to win that game after
how we came out."
NOTES: In Tuesday's victory in Cleveland, Portland G Damian
Lillard became the first player to finish a game with at least
36 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and eight 3-pointers since
Jason Kidd on April 11, 1995. Lillard also became just the
fourth player in the last 15 years to hit the go-ahead shot with
less than 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter or overtime in
consecutive games. ... Timberwolves F Chase Budinger, who had
knee surgery Sept. 30 and has not played this season, was
cleared for full-contact practice starting Thursday. Given that
this is the second surgery on the knee in as many seasons, coach
Rick Adelman said the team will be conservative in bringing him
back. ... Both SG Kevin Martin (sore knee) and reserve F Dante
Cunningham (turned ankle) played Wednesday.
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