It was a rare poor shooting night for the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday.
Playing the same team in back-to-back days meant a very slow start from the Target Center. The Trail Blazers and Timberwolves started the game combined 2-of-15 from the field.
With Minnesota taking a 24-20 lead at the end of the first quarter that marked the lowest-scoring first quarter for Portland this season.
Late in the second quarter, Portland went on an 8-0 run before Karl Anthony Towns threw down an emphatic dunk, but the Blazers went to the locker room with a 49-47 lead at the break.
A big difference through three quarters was that Minnesota made a living at the free throw line.
And just when it looked like momentum was on the Timberwolves side, thanks to a career night from their rookie Anthony Edwards, the game went down to the wire with Damian Lillard and the Blazers putting up a fight to claw back in the final minutes.
But after an overturned call on Lillard taking a charge, Ricky Rubio knocked down both free throws to give Minnesota a 108-104 lead. Rubio then calmly hit three more pairs of free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Timberwolves defeated the Blazers 114-112.
The Blazers second unit got it going a little late in the second quarter led by Carmelo Anthony.
But after Minnesota went into attack mode in the third while shooting over 60 percent for the quarter and Anthony Edwards leading the way, the T-Wolves took a 76-72 lead heading into the final period.
The Blazers looked like they ran out of gas scoring just 12 points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. In the final seconds, Robert Covington scored five quick points, but it wasn't enough before time expired.
Portland was once again without Harry Giles (left calf strain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
For the Timberwolves, Minnesota was without Jarrett Culver (left great toe; strain), D'Angelo Russell (left knee; surgery), Jordan McLaughlin (health and safety protocols) and Malik Beasley (league suspension).
When the Blazers couldn’t buy a basket early, it was Damian Lillard who put the ball on the floor and finished strong at the rim. After going scoreless in the second quarter it was the Blazers all-star point guard who took over late in the third quarter following the Timberwolves' 8-0 run.
Lillard was without a three-pointer until midway through the third, but after seeing the three splash in which moved him past JR Smith for 15th on the all-time three-pointers made, Lillard was cooking. He finished with 38.
Gary Trent Jr. also found his rhythm from deep in the second half.
It was a sluggish start for both teams, with several shots clanking off the front of the rim throughout the game.
Saturday, it was Karl Anthony Towns’ scoring that helped keep his team in the game. Sunday, Anthony Towns’ playmaking made the biggest difference. With the Blazers putting more attention on Towns he found his teammates and the Timberwolves found success in doing so. But that also didn’t mean the T-Wolves big man wasn’t getting his own buckets.
Towns finished with 13 points and eight assists, while Minnesota’s rookie Anthony Edwards showed out again. Edwards, who was in attack mode all night doing a little bit of everything. The rookie forward finished with a career-high 34.
At the other end for Minnesota it was Josh Okogie who made the difference drawing multiple offensive foul calls to give the Timberwolves more free throws and more possessions and they were able to convert.
Nassir Little once again showed off his athleticism in Minnesota:
Both the Timberwolves and Blazers went 5-of-18 from three in the first half.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will now head home for a five-game homestand starting with Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Portland and New Orleans will tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.