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Roy, Blazers deal Timberwolves another tough loss

Nov 16, 2008 - 5:29 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Brandon Roy scored 24 points as the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Minnesota Timberwolves another tough loss with an 88-83 triumph on Saturday night.

Greg Oden had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who outscored the struggling Timberwolves, 23-12, in the fourth quarter to steal the win.

Holding a tenuous one-point lead with the clock running under one minute in the fourth, Portland got a big defensive play from Roy, who swiped the dribble away from Randy Foye and converted a two-handed slam on the other end with 48 ticks left. The Timberwolves did not score the rest of the way.

"We dominated for the first three quarters," Foye said. "But down the stretch, they got a couple offensive boards, and we turned the ball over a couple of times. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized."

Al Jefferson scored 26 points for Minnesota, which has lost seven in a row since a season-opening 98-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Five of those defeats have come by five points or less, including two overtime setbacks.

In fact, the Timberwolves relinquished a double-digit lead for the fourth time in five games.

"It's like Groundhog Day," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.

Wittman seemed particularly upset at the defense of Jefferson and the shot selection of Rashad McCants.

"Until we get 12 or 15 players on the same page, we're not going to win close games," Wittman said. "It's not just the last five minutes, because if you took care of your business in a team manner, a 10-point lead at half might be 15 and the third quarter might be something different.

"But (instead) we're worried about whatever we're worried about - shots, points, I don't know - it's not the defensive assignment and other things that we're supposed to be worried about."

Minnesota led by 11 late in the third quarter, but a dunk by Oden at 2:57 in the fourth quarter gave Portland its first lead since the opening seconds of the second quarter.

Portland led 27-25 after the first quarter, but Minnesota opened the second with a 13-2 run, led by as many as 12 and took a 51-41 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Eight straight points by Portland, including a pair of 3-pointers by Sergio Rodriguez, helped cut the lead to three at 71-68 early in the fourth quarter.

"That was a key moment, late in the third," Roy said. "Up until then, we kept looking up at the scoreboard and seeing that we were still down seven. But then we closed the lead and didn't look back."

Oden scored all but two of his points in the second half.

"I always knew he was that good," Roy said. "I was just waiting for him to get comfortable. Tonight, he wasn't really thinking, he was just playing. When he gets caught in the moment, we're going to be a dangerous ball club. He's just giving you a taste of the player he's going to be in the future."

Oden was just happy that this game went better than the first time he matched up against Jefferson.

"(Jefferson) asked me today, 'Do you remember when we first played together when we were like 14?' I said, 'Heck, yeah.' He completely kicked my butt," Oden said. "I really do remember, so I came out and wanted to fight hard. You know how well he's been doing. I just wanted to come out here and fight and be a worthy opponent."

Minnesota's starting frontcourt, Kevin Love and Jefferson, had no rebounds in the first half and Jefferson, who has averaged 10.7 rebounds, didn't get his first defensive rebound until well into the fourth quarter. Jefferson left without talking to reporters.

Timberwolves point guard Sebastian Telfair left the game at 8:35 in the third quarter with a split lower lip that required stitches. He returned to the game early in the fourth.