Trail Blazers get back on track vs. T-WolvesFeb 28, 2009 - 4:49 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- After back-to-back setbacks against fellow Western Conference playoff contenders, the Portland Trail Blazers got the benefit of taking on a struggling, injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves squad Friday night.
The Blazers capitalized, snapping a two-game skid with a 102-82 rout - a pivotal win as they try to cut into the Denver Nuggets' Northwest Division lead.
"We played tighter defensively and that's where we've got to get - even more of a sense of urgency," Blazers guard Brandon Roy said. "Tonight was good but it's got to be even more on Sunday - every possession has to count."
Portland fell at Houston and San Antonio this week, but found Minnesota to be a much friendlier road atmosphere. After Randy Foye brought the T-Wolves to within five with a 3-pointer early in the third quarter, the Blazers erupted, staging a 16-2 run to seize control for good.
"I'm very happy with our guys, the way they responded tonight," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "We wanted ball movement and we got that tonight with 25 assists. Defensively, I though we did a nice job."
Brandon Roy found LaMarcus Aldridge for a 17-foot jumper to push the lead into double digits and Steve Blake swiped Sebastian Telfair on the other, setting up Aldridge for a layup that prompted a timeout by Minnesota head coach Kevin McHale.
It didn't help. Portland continued to pile on, as Roy knocked down a pair of jumpers and Aldridge hit a pair of free throws.
"This was a good step for us," Roy said. "They have been leading a lot of their games going into the fourth quarter and have kind of lost them there. Tonight our thing was, let's lead in the game."
Fittingly, it was Foye who put an end to the run, connecting once again from long range to stop the bleeding.
But by that point, the damage was already done.
"We just trusted each other and we believed everyone would be in the right spot," Portland center Joel Przybilla said. "The past two games San Antonio and Houston, I don't think we trusted each other."
Roy scored eight of his 19 points in the third. Rudy Fernandez, who added 18 points off the bench, drained a 3-pointer late in the period to push the lead to 74-54.
"We definitely need that," McMillan said of Fernandez. "He can really help us open up the offense when he's knocking down his perimeter shot. I like the fact that he was going to the basket tonight and not just settling for that jump shot."
With the win, the Blazers (36-22) kept pace with the Nuggets in the division race. Denver defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night to keep its lead at 2 1/2 games. The Utah Jazz (35-23) are one game back of Portland.
The Timberwolves, who have dropped five straight, were carried mostly by their bench as Mike Miller and Craig Smith poured in 16 points apiece while Bobby Brown added 15. They continue to struggle looking for scoring options in lieu of Al Jefferson, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
"That was our worst game we've had in I don't know how long," McHale said. "We couldn't muster any energy, couldn't get any offensive flow going."
Foye was the only starter to reach double figures, going for 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The starting lineup managed 27 points, 16 rebounds and five assists total. Jefferson was averaging 23.0 points and 11.0 boards by himself.
"I think we played good in spurts we haven't learned to play defense for 48 minutes yet," Roy said. "I think we still have to get better at it and I think that is our next step to really become a legitimate playoff team. Right now we are in the race, but I don't think we are a legitimate playoff team yet."
MINNESOTA 82 FINAL
Feb 27 10:23 PM
MINNESOTA 82 END, 4TH QTR
Feb 27 10:23 PM
MINNESOTA 58 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 27 9:52 PM
MINNESOTA 40 HALFTIME
Feb 27 9:07 PM
MINNESOTA 21 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 27 8:35 PM
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