Since winning their season opener 3 1/2 weeks ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves have yet to notch their second victory of the season.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been responsible for two of the defeats on that lengthy losing streak.
Trying to bounce back from a disappointing defeat, the Trail Blazers seek their third victory over the Timberwolves in two weeks when the Northwest Division clubs meet Saturday night at the Rose Garden.
Minnesota’s season started in solid fashion with a 95-93 win over New Jersey on Oct. 28, but the team has dropped 11 in a row since.
The Timberwolves (1-11) suffered some narrow losses to Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston at the beginning of the skid, but the scores have rarely been close lately.
Minnesota, in the midst of its longest losing streak since a 13-game slide from Nov. 29-Dec. 23, is coming off Wednesday’s 97-84 loss to Houston, its seventh straight defeat by at least 10 points.
“We haven’t came close in any of the games since the fourth or fifth game,” Timberwolves forward Ryan Gomes(notes) said. “After that, every other game has been double-digit losses. We want to get off this losing streak, but it’s going to have to come from within.”
Two of the losses during Minnesota’s skid have come against the Trail Blazers, and neither was close.
Portland (9-5) defeated the Timberwolves 116-93 on Nov. 8 and won 107-84 at Minnesota three days later.
The victory at the Target Center on Nov. 11 was the Blazers’ 10th straight over the Timberwolves since a 94-93 loss on March 25, 2007. Portland has also won the won the last eight meetings at the Rose Garden since an 84-74 defeat on Dec. 7, 2005.
In the two meetings this season, the Blazers have enjoyed a balanced scoring attack with LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) (15.0), Andre Miller(notes) (15.0), Greg Oden(notes) (14.5), Travis Outlaw(notes) (14.0), Martell Webster(notes) (12.0) and Rudy Fernandez(notes) (10.0) all averaging in double figures.
Portland’s offense struggled to get in gear in Friday’s 108-94 loss to Golden State, though. The Blazers turned the ball over 23 times and made only 4 of 19 shots from 3-point range in their second defeat in nine games.
“Everything we talked about doing, we didn’t do,” coach Nate McMillan said.
Greg Oden’s foul trouble in the second half impacted Portland’s effectiveness on both sides of the floor. The Blazers yielded their second-most points of the season after holding their six previous opponents to 85 points or fewer in regulation.
While Portland’s defense wasn’t particularly sharp against the high-powered Warriors, it has done a solid job of shutting down Minnesota leading scorer Al Jefferson(notes), limiting him to an average of 13.0 points.
Jefferson, who is averaging 15.6 points on the season, returned to the court for the Timberwolves on Wednesday after missing the previous two contests due to the death of his grandmother. The 6-foot-10 forward made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He also suffered an inadvertent kick to the head by Houston’s Carl Landry(notes) in the fourth quarter but remained in the game.
“We’re going to have to fight, frustrated or not,” Jefferson said. “We’re getting paid a lot of money to do our job. We can’t do it half the time. We have to do it for 48 minutes.”
The Blazers and Timberwolves won’t meet again until Feb. 27 in Minnesota.