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By Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND -- Damian Lillard scored 24 points as the Portland Trail Blazers rolled to a 109-94 victory over the injury-ravaged Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

It was only the second win in 10 games for the Trail Blazers (27-31), who never trailed after the game's first two minutes.

J.J. Hickson added 18 points and 16 rebounds for Portland, which completed a four-game sweep of the Timberwolves this season. The Blazers got major contributions off the bench from rookie Meyers Leonard (12 points, eight rebounds), Victor Claver (10 points) and Eric Maynor (seven points, 12 assists).

Derrick Williams collected 23 points and eight rebounds for Minnesota (20-36), which has lost five in a row and 10 of its last 12 games. The Timberwolves were going without their entire starting front line -- Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko -- because of injuries.

The Blazers held a large advantage in rebounds (55-47), points in the paint (56-40) and assists (32-19).

Portland extended a seven-point halftime edge to 76-59 with four minutes left in the third quarter. The margin was 83-71 heading into the final period.

The Blazers closed the first quarter on a 12-4 run to go into the second period ahead 31-19. They took a 51-44 advantage into intermission, getting 11 points from Lillard, eight points and nine rebounds from Hickson and seven assists from Maynor.

Portland held the Timberwolves -- who got 14 points and five boards from Williams -- to .364 shooting in the first half.

NOTES: Minnesota's piecemeal starting lineup included three usual front-line reserves -- forwards Derrick Williams and Mickael Gelabale and center Greg Stiemsma -- because of injuries. Over the last three games before facing Portland, the Timberwolves lost Kirilenko (calf) and Pekovic (abdominal). They were also without injured starters or rotation players Love, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee and Chase Budinger and suited nine players Saturday. "We can win, but it has to be all nine guys," coach Rick Adelman said. "It can't be four or five." ... Portland coach Terry Stotts said before the game Saturday that the Blazers shouldn't sell the shorthanded Wolves short. "They'll play free and loose with not a lot to lose," Stotts said. "Those are dangerous teams to play." ... Though Portland swept the season series, the Wolves scored 40 fourth-quarter points in a 100-98 loss at the Rose Garden on Feb. 4. "The guys who scored all 40 points are playing tonight," Stotts said before the game. "They have four point guards who can create a lot of problems." ... Roy, who spent his first five NBA seasons in Portland, said before the game he hopes to return to practice soon and "be ready to play again in a week or two." He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Nov. 19 and has missed the last 50 games. "If he makes it back on the court, I'll make a judgment," Adelman said. "If he could do it, it would be great, but he'll have to see it in practice first."
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