NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, February 23rd
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (27-28) at Portland Trail Blazers (37-18), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA tangle
Sunday night, when the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Minnesota
Timberwolves from the Moda Center.
The Trail Blazers lead the league with 107.8 points, while the Timberwolves
are right behind with 105.7 ppg.
Portland has defeated Minnesota twice in three meetings this season and has a
commanding 24-4 mark in the previous 28 games in the series. Portland has
been especially rough on the Timberwolves in the Rose City, winning four
straight, 15 of 16 and 17 of the past 21 encounters there.
The Blazers will close out a three-game homestand Sunday and halted a three-
game losing streak with Friday's 102-94 triumph over the Utah Jazz. Damian
Lillard scored 14 of his game-best 28 points in the fourth quarter and dished
out seven assists. Robin Lopez grabbed a career-best 18 rebounds and blocked
four shots for the Blazers, who had a 38-21 advantage in the final period and
made all 17 shots from the foul line.
LaMarcus Aldridge missed his second straight game with a groin strain.
"When you're going through a tough stretch, it's hard to get back on track
sometimes," Lillard said. "This win will get us back on track."
The Blazers, who opened the homestand with a loss to San Antonio, are 20-7 at
the Moda Center and fifth in the Western Conference standings. They have
struggled on defense this season, allowing 103.7 ppg (27th in NBA).
Minnesota is fighting to make the playoffs in the competitive Western
Conference and currently sits six games off the eighth seed.
The T'Wolves have won three in a row since losing four straight and opened a
five-game western jaunt with Saturday's 121-104 besting of the Jazz. Kevin
Love had a triple-double of 37 points on 11-of-20 shooting and also grabbed 12
rebounds to go along with 10 assists.
It was Love's first triple-double of his career.
"It just shows, at least for this year and through my first six years in the
league, how my game has progressed," said Love, who has scored 30-plus points
in four straight games. "Being able to find different guys, I think it's a
product of these guys being out, we have to step out different ways."
Love is averaging 33.1 points and 14.2 rebounds in his last 10 games. He also
extended his 25-plus point/10-plus rebound string to nine games, which is the
longest streak since Jazz Hall of Famer Karl Malone turned the trick 10 times
during the 1991-92 season.
Ricky Rubio added 15 points and seven assists, while Chase Budinger and Corey
Brewer both scored 13 in the recent win for Minnesota, which is 11-17 on the
road and will also visit Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver on the trek. The win
in Utah ended a three-game road slide for Minnesota.
The Wolves are still without guard Kevin Martin (thumb), but hope to get
center Nikola Pekovic back Sunday. Pekovic has been out since Jan. 27 because
of a balky ankle and is averaging 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds. His presence
inside with Love can only make the Wolves that much better.
Opponents are posting an average of 101.6 ppg against Minnesota.
02/23 10:23:28 ET