The elevator ride that the Trail Blazers have been on this season dropped all the way to the basement Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Portland lost 114-112 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, an outfit living in the bottom floor of the NBA. The win was just the T-Wolves’ ninth of the season and only their third win over a team with a record at or better than .500 since New Year's Day.
Minnesota has the most losses and fewest wins of any team in the league. But just as the Trail Blazers seem capable of playing up to their competition (two wins over Philadelphia and one over the Lakers), they can play down to it, too.
Maybe that old reliable assessment about it being difficult to beat a team in back-to-back games holds up even against the worst teams?
“Well, one is, I think it's human nature on both sides for the team that loses to really compete a little bit harder and the team that wins might let their guard down a little bit,” Terry Stotts said. “Minnesota's played three good games out of the break.
“They went to New Orleans and beat them by 30. Then they played a good game against us last night. They played well tonight, so at this point, you know, I realize their record is what it is, but give them credit -- they played really well.”
Certainly teams have a way of having good offensive games against Portland. Give them all credit, I guess -- rather than question the Trail Blazer defense. Minnesota, with the league’s 26th-ranked offense prior to the two Trail Blazer games, made 49.3 percent of its shots Sunday night after hitting 51.2 percent Saturday,
And rookie Anthony Edwards had his way with the Blazers, getting 34 points, with barely any defensive adjustment by Portland once he got going.
After a slow offensive start, Portland scored 40 points in the final quarter with a sense of urgency that was absent in the first three periods. Problem was, the Trail Blazers allowed 38 in the fourth period and couldn’t pull the game out late.
The Timberwolves shot 18 more free throws than the Trail Blazers, but Portland didn’t get to the basket often, scored only 30 points in the paint, and that’s not a great way to get to the foul line.
The Blazers conclude the week with back-to-backs against New Orleans and Dallas. I guess we can expect those two-game series to be splits, right?