In the span of 48 seconds on Thursday, the Trail Blazers playoff hopes went from bleak to promising, all thanks to Allen Crabbe.
In probably his greatest moment as a pro, Crabbe scored 10 points in a 48-second span turning an 87-82 deficit into a 92-89 lead, pushing the Blazers to a 105-98 win and onto the brink of clinching the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Crabbe scored 25 points and hit eight three pointers – three of them coming in the decisive 48 second span, including one while being fouled by Tyus Jones that resulted in a free throw.
"I love seeing a shooter get on a roll like that,'' Coach Terry Stotts said.
The win increased Portland’s lead over Denver to 1.5 games with three games remaining. Denver plays at home Friday against New Orleans. Any combination of Portland wins or Denver losses that equals two will earn Portland the final playoff spot.
Damian Lillard added 22 points, nine rbeounds and eight assists and CJ McCollum had 18 points and five assists.
Portland trailed by as many as 15 in the third quarter and 87-80 entering the fourth quarter, but Minnesota missed its first 13 shots of the fourth and 19 of its first 20 shots. When it was all said and done, Minnesota scored 11 fourth quarter points and went 3-for-23 from the field in the fourth. The fourth-quarter meltdown included the abandoning of Karl-Anthony Towns, whose inside play was dominant through the first three quarters. Towns had 22 points and 12 rebounds entering the fourth, but attempted only two shots, one of them a rebound put-back with 16 seconds left. Towns finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins, who finished with 36 points, went 1-for-8 in the fourth, and Ricky Rubio, who started 6-of-7, missed eight of his final nine shots.
"We struggled most of the night, but the fourth qaurter was terrific,'' Stotts said. "There was a lot of great defensive play, and obviously A.C.'s shooting was terrific.''
The Blazers erased a 15-point deficit in the third quarter, making their push after Towns headed to the bench after picking up his fourth foul. After Towns left, Portland went on a 12-2 run to draw even at 72 with 6:05. But that’s when Towns returned and the Blazers and Minnesota regained its footing, taking an 87-80 lead into the fourth.
Minnesota led 61-53 at halftime after leading by as many as 14 in the first quarter and 12 in the second quarter. Wiggins was dominant, particularly with post ups against McCollum, Lillard and Crabbe. Wiggins made 9-of-12 shots in the half and had 21 points.
Crabbe prevented the Timberwolves from running away in the first half, hitting his first three 3-point attempts.
Minnesota jumped to a 12-2 start and eventually took a 34-20 lead after the first quarter. They rode post ups by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins early, then the outside shooting of Rubio late in the quarter. Meanwhile, Portland shot just 32 percent, with Lillard missing his first six shots before scoring on a driving layin with 32 seconds left.
Al-Farouq Aminu, who started for the second straight game in the Blazers’ small-ball lineup without injured center Jusuf Nurkic, had 15 points and seven rebounds and Noah Vonleh added nine points and seven rebounds.
Next up: Utah at Blazers, 7 p.m. Saturday (KGW).