PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan was being cautious, saving guard Brandon Roy for when the team needed him.
With two fouls, Roy sat the entire second quarter Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then he went on to steer the Blazers to a 109-98 victory for Portland’s league-leading 12th consecutive win.
Roy finished with 22 points.
The streak matches Portland’s best run since winning 12 in a row during the 2001-02 season, the team’s second-longest stretch. Portland’s longest streak was 16 games in the 1990-91 season.
“The streak is great, but right now we’re doing our best to win basketball games and protect our home court,” Roy said. “Tonight was our chance to do that against a team some said we might overlook.
“That is not how this team is playing. Right now we’re focused.”
Al Jefferson had 22 points for Minnesota, which has the league’s worst record at 4-24. The Timberwolves fell to 1-14 on the road.
Portland, the youngest team in the NBA, started its streak with a Dec. 3 victory at Memphis after going 5-12 to start the season. Nine of the team’s 12 wins have come at the Rose Garden, where the Blazers are 14-3 overall.
The Blazers next host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.
Portland was coming off an 89-79 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Christmas. The Timberwolves were defeated 105-101 by Golden State on Wednesday night.
Portland led by as many a nine points early, but the Timberwolves went ahead briefly in the second quarter, when Antoine Walker’s layup made it 31-30.
Jack put Portland back ahead 44-42 with a pair of free throws. That was the start of a 13-4 run to make it 55-46 at the half.
Roy, last season’s Rookie of the Year who was averaging 23 points a game during the streak, had a pair of fouls when McMillan sat him for the second quarter. He returned to start the second half.
“The game was close,” McMillan said of the decision to hold Roy out. “It was a learning experience.”
Portland went up 78-69 on Jack’s layup at the end of the third quarter. Roy opened the fourth with six straight points, kicking off an 11-3 run that ended when his jumper made it 89-72—and the game fell out of reach for the Timberwolves.
“They lost nine out of 10 leading up to this 12-game winning streak. That should tell you right there it’s confidence. All of the sudden boom, boom, boom. It filters down,” Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said.
Roy scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, prompting fans to chant “M-V-P! M-V-P!” He has scored 20-plus points in nine of the Blazers’ games during the streak, and he has been named the NBA’s player of the week twice during the span.
Over the 12 games, Roy is averaging 22.9 points a game.
The Blazers have won four straight against the Timberwolves at the Rose Garden.
“I was anxious to see how we would respond in this position, as a favorite against a team with a poorer record. I was interested in our approach,” McMillan said. “Games like this can be dangerous but all season I have felt that this team doesn’t let down and overlook our opponents.”
Minnesota guard Sebastian Telfair was drafted out of high school by the Trail Blazers with the 13th overall pick in the 2004 draft. Telfair finished with four points and 11 assists against his former team, fouling out late in the game. … The Trail Blazers will honor team founder Harry Glickman on Sunday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers. Glickman retired in 1987. … Minnesota forward Craig Smith was knocked by Aldridge in the first half and had to leave the court because he was bleeding. When he returned to the game he had a bandage alongside his right eye. … Portland had a season-high 28 assists.