Trail Blazers 92, Timberwolves 83

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Zach Randolph said he doesn’t need anything or anybody to motivate him. But that’s exactly what Sam Cassell did when he guaranteed a Minnesota victory.

Randolph had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Derek Anderson scored 21 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-83 Sunday for their third straight victory.

In a story in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune that was posted in Portland’s locker room before the game, Cassell was quoted as saying, “We’re going to win this Sunday, you can print that.”

“Nothing’s guaranteed in this league,” yelled Randolph, who was still bouncing with energy after the game and pointing to the spot on the wall where the article was.

Hearing Randolph’s rant, teammate Darius Miles joked that there is one thing in the NBA that is guaranteed: contracts.

Miles scored 19 points, and Damon Stoudamire added 17 points and eight assists for Portland, which beat Minnesota for the second time in five days.

“You know what’s guaranteed?” said teammate Dale Davis. “You see us in a fight with a bear, you better help the bear.”

Kevin Garnett had 20 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, but the Timberwolves still lost for the fifth time in eight games.

“We need to do a little soul searching,” Garnett said. “We definitely need to do some things better, watch film and get back to the basics.”

Cassell had 20 points and eight assists and Trenton Hassell scored 12.

“I said that to motivate our guys to win this one,” Cassell said of his comments. “We haven’t won one on a Sunday in a month.”

“We need a win, (and) I’ll say it again next week,” he added.

As in Portland’s 92-79 win over Minnesota on Wednesday, Theo Ratliff asserted himself inside by blocking six shots and altering countless others. The Blazers center also had 10 rebounds, and Portland had 22 offensive rebounds to Minnesota’s 23 defensive rebounds.

“I thought Ratliff really patrolled,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “If I had to pick a defensive player of the year, it would be him.”

“This is as good a defensive game as we’ve played all year,” said coach Maurice Cheeks.

Minnesota trailed for most of the game and was down 78-65 at the start of the fourth quarter before making one last run to get within 85-77 with 3:42 left. Anderson and Randolph scored the next four points, and Wolves couldn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way.

The Blazers outrebounded Minnesota 52-43.

Portland extended its 53-44 halftime lead to 13 points by the end of the third—again finishing the quarter on a run.

Troy Hudson’s 3-pointer with 3:17 left brought Minnesota within 70-62, but Anderson keyed an 8-0 run that allowed Portland to regain its double-digit lead.

“We knew they were going to make their runs,” said Miles. “We just stuck to our game plan.”

Minnesota was ahead 15-13 midway through the first quarter before Portland went on a 20-6 run to take a double-digit lead. Anderson started the surge with two straight 3-pointers and the Blazers finished with seven unanswered points to go up 33-21.

The Wolves got right back in the game at the start of the second quarter behind the scoring of Cassell. He had six points during a 16-7 run that was punctuated by Garnett’s soaring, one-handed fast-break dunk over Ratliff.

But the dunk seemed to spark the Blazers, who went on a 13-2 run after their lead was cut to 40-37 with 5:04 left.

Entering Sunday’s games, the Wolves held the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff race while the Blazers were 10th—two games behind Denverfor the final playoff spot.

Notes

Minnesota has lost its last five games played on Sundays. … Hudson shot just 1-for-10 from the field. … Despite the rebounding disadvantage the Timberwolves had more second-chance points (19) than Portland (15). … Portland had 13 blocked shots in the game. … Ratliff had five blocks in the last game against Minnesota and eight blocked shots in Friday’s win againstSacramento. … The Blazers snapped a three-game road losing streak.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Portland
D. Stoudamire D. Stoudamire
6-15,  17 Pts
6 Rebs, 8 Assists
 Minnesota
K. Garnett K. Garnett
10-20,  20 Pts
14 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists