MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points, Gorgui Dieng had 12 points and 10 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-102 on Thursday night.
Minnesota smothered the Trail Blazers all night. The Timberwolves held Portland to 13 points on 6-of-22 shooting in the second quarter, the fewest points the Blazers have scored in a quarter this year.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 20 points and eight of the team’s 13 assists. CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside each added 15 points.
Minnesota was without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns for the 12th straight game with a left knee sprain. Towns has been listed as questionable throughout the duration of his injury and hasn’t played since Dec. 13.
The Timberwolves took control with a big run to start the second quarter. Led by Keita Bates-Diop and Wiggins, Minnesota used a 20-4 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a 46-38 lead.
The Wolves’ lead grew to as much as 27 in the third, allowing coach Ryan Saunders to play his backups for the entire fourth quarter.
Minnesota entered Thursday’s game with the best defensive rating in the league since Dec. 26 and was holding opponents to an average of 103.6 points. That defense was on display against Portland in the second quarter.
The Wolves had four steals — two by Robert Covington — and turned four Portland turnovers into eight points during the dominant second quarter. Minnesota outscored the Blazers 31-13 in the second to take a 59-47 lead.
Minnesota put up 41 points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves went on cruise control. Wiggins scored nine of his 23 points in the third.
Trail Blazers: Portland returns home after going 2-3 on a five-game trip. Whiteside was listed as questionable prior to the game because of an upper respiratory illness but started for the Blazers. Lillard has topped 20 points 30 times this season.
Timberwolves: Wiggins’ eight assists were a season high. Minnesota had nine players score at least eight points. The Timberwolves are 196-3 when leading by 15 points entering the fourth quarter.
Trail Blazers: Host Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Timberwolves: At Houston on Saturday night.
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