Minnesota (2-0) has won consecutive games to open a season for the first time since 2002-03. The Timberwolves, who missed the playoffs the last two years, went 33-49 in 2005-06, the franchise’s worst mark since finishing 26-56 in 1995-96—Kevin Garnett’s rookie season.
Not commonly mentioned among possible playoff contenders to start the season, the Timberwolves have knocked off two of last year’s Western Conference playoff teams in their first two games, beating Sacramento 92-83 on Wednesday and Denver 112-109 on Friday.
Minnesota hasn’t begun a season with three straight wins since opening 6-0 in 2001-02.
Friday’s victory started a four-game road trip for the Timberwolves, who stumbled to a 9-32 mark away from home last season. If Minnesota can beat Portland (1-1), it will have consecutive road victories for the first time since March 26-29.
The Timberwolves and Blazers split their four meetings last season, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Blazers won the last two matchups to snap a six-game winning streak by Minnesota in the series.
Neither team has reached 100 points in any of the last seven matchups, although the Timberwolves hit that mark on Friday against the Nuggets.
The 112 points were the most scored by Minnesota since a 113-108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 2, 2005. Kevin Garnett scored 27 points and rookie Craig Smith added 20 to help the Wolves overcome a five-point deficit in the final five minutes.
“I quarterbacked the team in the fourth quarter when they converged on me,” said Garnett, who finished with 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists. “I was like Peyton Manning. I got the ball to the right people.”
The Blazers return to the Rose Garden for their home opener after splitting their first two games on the road.
Portland beat Seattle 110-106 in its opener on Wednesday before losing 102-89 to Golden State on Friday.
“We lost, we didn’t play smart,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said following Friday’s defeat. “We didn’t play together. I thought we went off and played individual basketball, which leads to this type of game, which leads to this type of result. When you don’t play together and you’re not doing the things that you talked about execution wise, then everybody’s on a different page and this is totally opposite of the performance in Seattle.”
Rookie Brandon Roy, considered by many to be the most NBA-ready prospect in last June’s draft, has had a strong start. He scored 20 points on 10 of 16 shooting against the Sonics and had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists against the Warriors.
The Blazers lost nine of their final 10 home games last season to finish 15-26 at the Rose Garden, their worst home record since 1972-73, when they were 13-28. However, Portland has won five straight home openers.
The Blazers visit Minnesota on Tuesday, after which the teams don’t meet again until Jan. 24.