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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 3rd (All times eastern)

Minnesota Timberwolves (18-19) at Portland Trail Blazers (18-18), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Calling Minnesota a rival to Portland recently would be like calling kindling a rival to fire.

The Trail Blazers have won 16 straight games over the Timberwolves but this Minnesota club is a much improved bunch that will be looking to get the monkey off its back tonight in the Rose Garden.

The Timberwolves opened a four-game road trip with a win in LA over the Clippers but have since faltered, dropping games to the Lakers and Phoenix.

All-Star Kevin Love, back from a one-game absence because of flu-like symptoms, had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wolves, who were playing their third game in three nights, during a 104-95 setback against the Suns on Thursday.

"For all these guys, for me coming off being sick, I think we just had tired legs down the stretch and it caught up with us," said Love.

The Timberwolves, who are 8-9 as the visitor in 2011-12, have lost nine straight and 11 of their last 12 overall against Phoenix, which took control of the game with a 26-9 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.

Meanwhile, Minnesota hasn't topped the Blazers since a 94-93 win in the Twin Cities back on March 25, 2007. The Wolves haven't won in the Pacific Northwest since Dec. 7, 2005, losing 11 consecutive in the Beaver State.

Portland, however, is also coming off a loss, falling to the red-hot Miami Heat, 107-93, on Thursday. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 71 points in that one.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points to lead the Blazers, who were opening up a three-game homestand, and Jamal Crawford scored 18.

"LeBron and Dwyane were on top of their games tonight. I thought our guys really worked hard to get them to shoot the ball over the top. We did that, but they made them," said Blazers coach Nate McMillan. "It's a tough matchup when you have guys like that who can score and are willing passers."

Portland, which is 13-6 at the Rose Garden this season, will finish its residency against New Orleans on Monday.

03/03 11:02:44 ET