Portland had already clinched their playoff spot, and Terry Stots could’ve easily rested some of his key guys. He elected not to when they took on the Minnesota Timberwolves and ROY front-runner, Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Trail Blazers would go on to lose 106-105, but the final minute of the first quarter was nail-bitingly entertaining. Damian Lillard hit a floater with one minute left to cut the T-Wolves’ lead to two, 101-99. On the ensuing possession, Andrew Wiggins hit one of two free throws to extend the lead, 102-99. Lillard hit a reverse layup, cutting the lead back down to one, but fouled Zach LaVine with eight seconds left. LaVine hit both free throws.
Fresh out of their timeout, Lillard got fouled while shooting a three, hit it, and then hit the and-one free throw to give Portland a one-point lead, 105-104. On what would be the final possession, Towns got the inbounds pass on the right block, turned, and shot a right hook with 1.8 seconds left to give Minnesota a 106-105 victory.
Towns was stellar yet again and finished with 27 points on 13/20 shooting and nine rebounds. Through the first three quarters, he had registered just 13 points but erupted for 14 of Portland’s 31 fourth quarter points to help seal the game. Andrew Wiggins had a nice outing as well, finishing with 23 points.
Damian Lillard tallied a game-high 31 on 11/22 shooting, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and handed out seven assists. C.J. McCollum was second on the team with 22 points, and Mason Plumlee had a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Minnesota is back in action on Monday at home against Houston. The Trail Blazers host the Nuggets on Wednesday.
Around The League
Chicago kept their playoff hopes alive as they beat the Cavs, 105-102. Jimmy Butler had 21 to lead the Bulls, and Cristiano Felicio had a career-high 16. LeBron James had a game-high 33 points, and J.R. Smith was second to him with 24.
Paul Millsap did everything for Atlanta in their 118-107 win over the Celtics. Millsap finished with 31 points, 16 boards, three assists, five blocks, and two steals. Kent Bazemore had 21, and Jeff Teague had 24 to help push the Hawks to victory.
The Warriors survived a scare from Memphis and hauled in their 71st win this year, 100-99. Matt Barnes had a game-high 24 points and 15 rebounds; Draymond Green had 23p/11r, and Klay Thompson had 20 points to pull GS to one game withing the Bulls’ record.
PHX 121 – NOLA 100
BOS 107 – ATL 118
GSW 100 – MEM 99
CLE 102 – CHI 105
MINN 106 – POR 105
OKC 112 – SAC 114