MINNEAPOLIS – Defense has been a proud possession of the Portland Trail Blazers in this early part of the season.
But it wasn’t good enough Friday night to make up for a woeful offensive performance by the Trail Blazers that resulted in a wire-to-wire 112-96 Timberwolves’ win over Portland.
The Blazers’ starting lineup went 3-18 from three-point range. The team total was just 8-29. Put that together with 18 turnovers that resulted in 22 points.
This game was decided in the first half, when Portland had 13 of those turnovers for 18 points and allowed eight offensive rebounds.
That set a tone – and a 12-point deficit – that was impossible to overcome in the final two quarters.
“The first half was frustrating because of our turnovers and the offensive rebounds,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “We gave them too many opportunities. We dug the hole in the first half because of that.”
Al-Farouq Aminu, who did an outstanding defensive job on Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, offered some wisdom on the evening’s outcome.
“In these types of games we have to do better defensively,” he said. “I don’t want to be the kind of team just relying on our offense. We have to take it to another level on defense when we have trouble on offense.
“We have to make it a defensive battle. We have to play defensive games as well as offensive games.”
Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range.
“We allowed them to have second or third opportunities,” Damian Lillard said. “Our offense wasn’t going for us. You can’t hurt yourself by giving them extra opportunities but that’s what we did. The offensive rebounds and we turned the ball over.”
Lillard, who is still playing with a right knee that isn’t 100 percent, made only 1 for 7 from three-point range. Very often, players suffering from knee troubles have a problem with outside shooting, because getting adequate lift on their shot from deep is difficult off sore knees.
But Lillard wouldn’t even consider using that as an excuse.
“I am not going there,” he said sternly. “When I was shooting, it felt fine.”
Evan Turner, who went scoreless in 21 minutes, was asked to sum up the game.
“It was tough,” he said. “We didn’t get our pop going. They scored a lot on the second opportunities. Stuff just wasn’t going our way. They went on a great run and played a great game tonight.
“I don’t think it will be something that will stay like that. We’ll get back to getting stops and getting into transition. It will be all good.”
And the next chance to make it all good will be Sunday in Washington against the Wizards.