PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — While there was certainly some pride at play in the way Kevin Love attacked the team he grew up watching, more than anything he just wanted the Timberwolves to win one against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Love, who grew up just south of the Rose Garden in Lake Oswego, had a season-high 42 points along with 10 rebounds in Minnesota’s 122-110 victory over the Blazers on Saturday night. The victory snapped the Timberwolves’ 16-game losing streak to Portland.
“It’s my hometown team. I’ve always been a big fan, so in some ways it means a lot,” he said. “But more than anything we wanted to stop that 16-game losing streak.”
The Timberwolves had not defeated the Blazers since a 94-93 victory at home on March 25, 2007. They hadn’t won in Portland since Dec. 7, 2005, a string of 11 straight games.
Love was a sophomore in high school that year.
“We made it to the state championship that year and lost,” recalled Love, who finished Saturday night just one shy of his career-best 43 points scored at Denver on Dec. 18, 2010.
Former Blazers swingman Martell Webster added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves (19-19), who led by as many as 16 points and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers (18-19), who have lost nine of their last 13 games. Nicolas Batum finished with 29 points.
“You’re always concerned when you’re in the process of a three-game losing streak, you’re under .500 and you’re out of the playoff run,” Wallace said. “You can pick any one as a cause of concern.”
Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who was averaging 22.1 points and 8.3 rebounds going into the game, was held to 14 points and seven boards before fouling out with just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota was playing the final game of a four-game West Coast trip. While they opened with a win against the Clippers, the Timberwolves lost two straight to the Lakers and the Suns.
J.J. Barea, who missed Thursday night’s 104-95 loss to the Suns with a strained right calf, returned and had six points in 19 minutes for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves jumped on Portland from the start, going up 20-12 on Love’s 3-pointer and extending it to 31-17 on Webster’s 3.
Portland climbed back in it in the second when Aldridge’s hook shot narrowed the margin to 40-36. The Blazers squeezed it to 47-46 after Wallace’s jam, then took the lead with Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer.
Portland held a narrow lead until Love’s 3-pointer made it 61-60 at the half.
Love hit another 3 near the end of the third quarter to put Minnesota in front 81-73. Both Aldridge and center Joel Przybilla, who was playing in his second game with the Blazers after signing with the team as a free agent last week, got into foul trouble.
Portland’s 9-2 run pulled the team within 84-82 to start the fourth quarter, then tied it on Elliot Williams’ dunk. But it was short-lived, and Minnesota went up 99-86 on Derrick Williams’ basket and free throw with 7:41 left. The Blazers never posed much of a challenge the rest of the way.
“That was one of our best wins of the year, I think,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We got 60 points in each half. We came out real aggressive, but then they made their run on us. They’re very athletic and they got us on our heels a little bit, but our guys responded. I thought we played a solid second half.”
The Blazers locker room was somber after the game.
“We should all be frustrated,” said Jamal Crawford, who finished with 23 points. “There’s no fun in this. There’s no fun in losing games.”
Several Timberwolves have ties to Oregon and the Trail Blazers. In addition to Love, Luke Ridnour played for the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Webster played five seasons for the Blazers from 2005-10. Adelman both played for the Blazers and was the team’s head coach.
“My grandkids told me that we had to win tonight because they had Minnesota stuff on. I didn’t want them to get beat up,” Adelman joked.
Notes: Running back LaMichael James, who has declared for the upcoming NFL draft, was among those at the game. … Blazers center Marcus Camby suffered a cut on his chin in the first half that required eight stitches. He returned in the second half. … Blazers forward/center Kurt Thomas was inactive for the second straight game because of a concussion. … The Blazers were coming off a 107-93 loss at the Rose Garden to the Miami Heat.
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