Timberwolves Wrap: Wolves blow 17-point lead, lose to Blazers


For the second time this season, the Timberwolves were unable to hold on to a 17-point lead against the Trailblazers at Target Center, losing 109-103.

Saturday’s game was largely a tale of two halves.

The Wolves stout pick-n-roll defense held Portland’s high-scoring back court tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in check in the first half, giving up a meager seven combined points.

But the Blazers back court, which entered Saturday’s match-up averaging over 44 points per-game,  proved too much for the Wolves in the second half, as McCollum and Lillard took turns capitalizing on the Wolves defensive breakdowns.

The Wolves gained their biggest lead of the game on a 20-foot jumper from Kevin Garnett – which took his career point total to 26,000 and pushed the Wolves lead to 63-46 with 10:12 left in the 3rd quarter.

But after the Garnett milestone, McCollum found his shooting stroke, scoring 12 3rd-quarter points as Portland erased the 17-point Wolves lead going into the 4th quarter.

In the fourth quarter, after Portland’s bench had given the Blazers a 6 point lead, Lillard took over where McCollum left off, scoring 10 points in the final five minutes to keep a late Wolves rally at bay. Lillard and McCollum finished with 19 and 17 points, respectively.

The Wolves second-half defensive struggles negated a bounce-back performance from Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s 27 points and 12 rebounds were both game-highs.

After the Wolves were down by as many as eight, Towns, who received significant 4th-quarter minutes from coach Sam Mitchell for the first time in three games, hit a 25-foot three-pointer to bring the Wolves within 2 with 1:13 left in the game. But Towns’ three proved to be the Wolves’ last points of the game, as the Wolves rally ran out of steam.

Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points on 6 of 15 shooting, with 15 of Wiggins points came in the first half. Ricky Rubio recorded nine points and 15 assists for the Timberwolves in the losing effort.

Tweet of the Night:

Star of the Night:

Karl-Anthony Towns: 27 points (13-21 FG, 1-2 3P), 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists, zero steals, 32 minutes

Despite the losing effort, Towns’ fourth-quarter minutes and reemergence as a two-way low-post presence was the most significant take-away from an otherwise disappointing night.

Stat of the Night:

Eight minutes and 13 seconds – the amount of time Coach Sam Mitchell played a lineup consisting of  the Wolves’ young core of Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Rubio during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss.

In a much-debated approach, Mitchell had played Towns for only two minutes combined in the fourth quarter of the three previous games.

Notable Timberwolves Lines:

  • Andrew Wiggins – 17 points (5-16 FG, 0-4 3P, 5-6 FT), 5 rebounds, one block, one turnover
  • Ricky Rubio – 9 points (1-5 FG, 1-2 3P, 6-6 FT), 6 rebounds, 15 assists, 3 turnovers
  • Gorgui Dieng – 15 points (6-8 FG, 3-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 1 steal, one assist, 4 turnovers
  • Zach Lavine – 12 points (4-14 FG, 2-5 3P, 2-2 FT) 2 assists, one rebound, one steal, one turnover

Whose Got Next?

The Timberwolves will take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center on Monday. The Wolves will face a Clippers team that has won four of its last five, including a 107-99 victory over the Wolves at Staples Center on November 29th.

Next: The 30 Greatest Moments In Timberwolves History

The game is set for tip-off at 7:00 Central Time on Monday, the first of a two-game home stretch against Los Angeles teams. The Wolves will host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, which will mark the final appearance of Kobe Bryant at Target Center.