Monday, February 24, 2014
PORTLAND — Thomas Robinson got it started when he blocked a shot by Corey Brewer. Victor Claver then grabbed the rebound for Portland, leading to Will Barton’s dunk on the other end.
The fourth-quarter sequence put the crowd on its feet, and the Trail Blazers went on to a 108-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
“Adrenaline shot through me, I was hyped,” said Robinson, who had 14 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, providing a spark in the absence of injured All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. “I probably said a lot of stuff I don’t remember.”
Barton’s jam gave Portland a 92-83 lead.
“It was pandemonium,” he said.
Damian Lillard had 32 points for the Blazers, who won their second straight after a three-game slump.
Kevin Love scored 31 for Minnesota, which had won three in a row. It was Love’s franchise-best fifth straight game with 30 or more points.
After trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half, Nicolas Batum’s fast-break layup gave Portland an 84-80 lead going into the fourth quarter. Claver dunked to extend the lead to 88-80.
After the game-changing sequence from Robinson, Claver and Barton, Lillard’s 3-pointer made it 105-91 with 4:14 left, and Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman took Love out with 3:36 to go.
“Guys came in and really picked up the energy and brought a lot to the game today,” Lillard said. “When we got back to the locker room we were calling (Robinson) ‘Thomas Aldridge.’ He was huge.”
The Timberwolves were coming off a 121-104 victory at Utah on Saturday night. Love led the way with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.
Love presented a significant matchup problem for the Blazers with Aldridge sidelined by a left groin strain. Aldridge, who averages a team-high 23.9 points and 11.4 rebounds, is expected to be re-evaluated in the next few days.
“This is a good team, even with LaMarcus out,” said Love, who also had 10 rebounds for his league-leading 47th double-double. “They’re good, they can put up points in a hurry. They shot the ball well and this is one of the best, if not the best, crowds in the league.”
Aldridge wasn’t the only Blazer hurting: The team was also without forward Joel Freeland because of a right knee sprain and center Meyers Leonard because of a left ankle sprain.
The Timberwolves continued to miss center Nikola Pekovic because of a sore right ankle and Kevin Martin because of a fractured bone in his left thumb.
“A night like tonight hurts a lot,” Love said. “It’s a reminder to us that we need all our guys back. We need our depth. Even without LaMarcus, we needed all our guys tonight.”
Love got off to a fast start with seven points as the Timberwolves built an early 18-9 lead. By the end of the opening quarter, Love had 13. Minnesota extended the lead to 43-28 early in the second quarter on Shabazz Muhammad’s short jumper.
The Timberwolves stretched the lead to 52-34 after a short jumper and a pair of free throws from J.J. Barea.
Portland then got back into the game with an 18-8 run capped by Robinson’s two layups and Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer, closing the gap to 60-52 at the half.
A pair of 3-pointers from Lillard and Batum put Portland in front 74-73. It was short-lived and Love drained a 3 to give Minnesota an 80-76 lead before the Blazers’ furious fourth-quarter surge.
Portland was coming off a 102-94 victory over the Jazz on Friday night. Lillard had 28 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Love is from Lake Oswego, just outside of Portland. ... Adelman coached the Blazers from 1989-94, guiding the team to two Western Conference titles. ... Love has at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in 10 straight games, the longest run of 25-10 games since Shaquille O’Neal had 13 in a row in 2001.