Karl-Anthony Towns had 34 points and 12 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped Portland’s six-game winning streak with a 110-109 victory over the Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points and Ricky Rubio had 11 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who bounced back from an ugly home loss to Sacramento that eliminated them from postseason contention on Saturday.
Damian Lillard scored 25 points for Portland, but had a rough shooting night. He made just 7-of-21 shots, including 3-of-11 3-pointers, and his potential game-winning pull-up jumper at the buzzer glanced off the rim. The Blazers lead Denver by 1.5 games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
CJ McCollum struggled as well, scoring 17 points on 5-for-14 shooting and 0-for-3 on threes.
Nigerian Al-Farouq Aminu scored 20 points and Maurice Harkless had 17 points, eight rebounds and a big block of a Rubio drive that gave the Blazers the ball back with 4.9 seconds to play.
Lillard got a clean look, but couldn’t knock it down and Portland missed a golden chance to pad their lead on Denver in a tense race.
It was the second game for Portland without Jusuf Nurkic, the big man who galvanized the team after coming over in a trade from Denver at the deadline, to a fractured right leg.
But they beat lowly Phoenix in their first game without him and went super small on Monday against the Wolves with Aminu and Harkless seeing some time at center.
The sleek lineup put the Blazers in control with a 34-point second quarter, but the 7-foot Towns had his way in the fourth. He scored 14 points in the period, including a big dunk for a 110-106 lead with 35 seconds to go.
Trail Blazers: Terry Stotts was the Western Conference Coach of the Month and Lillard was the conference’s Player of the Month as Portland finished March at 13-3 … Lillard’s first 3-pointer of the game in the third quarter gave him 200 for the season, the third time he’s done that in his career. Wes Matthews is the only other Blazers player to do it even one time.
Timberwolves: Brandon Rush scored 12 points, giving him back-to-back double-digit efforts for the first time since 11-13 January … Rubio hit a technical free-throw in the third quarter after the Blazers were whistled for defensive three seconds. It was his 49th straight technical free-throw made, the longest active streak in the league.
Both teams are set up for difficult back-to-backs because this game had to be shoe-horned into the schedule. It was originally scheduled to be played on 6 March, but had to be postponed when the players took the floor for pregame warm-ups and were sliding all over the place.
An ice sheet that was placed under the court so Target Center could host a college hockey tournament started to melt due to unseasonably warm weather. That caused condensation on the court that could not be corrected, so the league postponed the game.
Trail Blazers: Portland travel to Utah for a tough back-to-back on Tuesday.
Timberwolves: Minnesota head to the Bay Area to play Golden State on Tuesday. The Wolves are the last team to beat the Warriors, doing so in Minnesota on 10 March.
By NBA News