Trail Blazers 102, Timberwolves 97

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- A few hours before Saturday night's game with Portland on at Target Center, the Timberwolves learned that Kevin Love would miss an extended period of time after re-breaking a bone in his right hand.
If that wasn't bad enough, the Blazers added insult to injury in a surprisingly close 102-97 victory.
Led by Nicolas Batum (26 points), Wes Matthews (26) and rookie guard Damian Lillard (20), the Blazers used some deadly long-range shooting to build a big lead. Then Portland withstood a late Wolves rush to win for the second straight time, for the fourth time in five games and for the 10th time in 13 games.
Rush? The Wolves were down 21 points early in the third quarter. Then, with Derrick Williams (18 fourth-quarter points) leading the way, the Wolves pulled to 96-94 on Williams' dunk with 1:19 left.
But the Wolves couldn't get over the hump.
LaMarcus Aldridge (14 points) scored on a turnaround jumper with 37.1 seconds left. At the other end, Williams was called for a travel, and Matthews put the icing on the cake, making two free throws with 22.1 seconds left for a six-point Portland lead.
But the story of the game was the Blazers' 3-point shooting. Portland hit 16 of 24 3-point shots while building that 21-point lead that, in the end, was too much to overcome.
It was:
-- The most 3-pointers made by the Blazers this season;
-- The most allowed by the Wolves this season;
-- The highest 3-point percentage (66.7) by a Wolves opponent this season. Nicolas Batum (5 of 6), Matthews (5 of 7) and Lillard (3 of 5) led the way.
Put that all together and you have a one-sided loss that was determined pretty early.
Center Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolves before leaving the game midway through the third quarter with a left hip strain. Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and Ridnour had 15.
The Wolves started well, holding a 17-14 lead with eight minutes gone in the first quarter.
But over the next eight minutes, the Trailblazers ripped off a 21-4 run that gave them a 35-21 lead four minutes into the second quarter.
First, four Blazers players scored in a 9-0 run that gave Portland a six-point lead late in the first quarter. After the Wolves scored the final four points of the quarter, Matthews hit three 3-pointers in a 12-0 Blazers run to open the second quarter.
The Wolves were unable to get any closer than eight points the rest of the half, which ended with the Blazers up 53-43.
That lead grew to 22 points early in the third quarter on the second of two straight three-pointers by Batum, and the Blazers still led by 18 entering the fourth quarter.
And then the Wolves made their run.
NOTES: An MRI revealed Love had re-fractured a metacarpal in his right hand. The injury occurred during the third quarter of the Wolves' game in Denver on Thursday. Love will see Dr. Andy Weiland, a specialist in New York, later this week. Then a course of action -- which could include surgery -- will be announced. ... Wolves G Ricky Rubio missed his fourth game with back spasms. If Rubio can practice hard Sunday and Monday, the Wolves hope he can return to action Tuesday against Atlanta. ... Saturday's game featured two of the top five rookie scorers in the league in Portland's Damian Lillard (first at 18.2 points per game) and Wolves guard Alexey Shved (fifth, 11.1). ... Aldridge entered the game having scored in double figures in 56 straight games.

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