NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 18th (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (22-4) at Minnesota Timberwolves (12-13), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard has been cool in the clutch and the Portland Trail Blazers are reaping the awards.
Lillard and the Blazers shoot for a sixth straight win when they close out a four-game road trip Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Blazers are 3-0 on the trek following Tuesday's 119-116 victory at Cleveland, as Lillard nailed the game-winning 3-pointer over Alonzo Gee with less than a second on the clock.
The talented second-year player, who burned the Detroit Pistons with a game- winning shot in overtime on Sunday, took the inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds remaining and knocked down a triple from the top of the key. Lillard's teammates swarmed him after the big bucket and he finished with 36 points on 11-of-23 shooting, 10 assists and made 8-of-12 from beyond the arc.
"I made a move to get (Gee) off-balance, and I made sure that I was ready when I froze him," Lillard said.
Lillard is averaging 25.0 points per game in his last three for the Blazers, who have won five in a row, nine of 10 games and are an NBA-best 22-4 this season. LaMarcus Aldridge posted 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum scored 19 and 14 points, respectively.
Portland surpassed last season's road win total by improving to 12-2 as the guest and has scored 100-plus points in 13 straight games. The Blazers are first in the NBA in scoring (108.3 ppg) and will start a three-game homestand this weekend versus New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami.
Aldridge has posted 10 or more field goals in five straight games and leads the Blazers with 23.6 ppg and 11.0 rpg. Aldridge, who is probable Wednesday with a bruised right hand, has tallied four straight double-doubles and is averaging 25.6 ppg in his last five games.
Minnesota is back home for a quick matchup with Portland and went 1-2 on a recent road trip, which culminated with Monday's 101-97 loss at Boston.
The Timberwolves entered their meeting against the Celtics with three wins in the past four games, but couldn't slow down Jared Sullinger, who scored 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Wolves star Kevin Love ended with 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic posted 13 points and Dante Cunningham added 12 in defeat.
"We had every chance to win that game; couldn't make a layup, couldn't make a shot, for our starters it really was a struggle. We just missed too many opportunities that were right there for us," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.
Love leads the T'Wolves in points (25.0) and rebounds (13.6), and is averaging 30.2 points per game in the last five. In injury news for Minnesota, Cunningham (ankle) and Kevin Martin (knee) are questionable Wednesday.
Minnesota, which will visit the Lakers and Clippers this weekend, is 0-5 when failing to score 100 points this season and lost all four meetings with Portland in 2012-13. The Blazers have won five straight, 21 of 23 and 25 of the past 29 meetings with the Timberwolves.
Portland is 10-1 in its last 11 trips to the Twin Cities.
12/18 10:26:50 ET