Tue Feb 13 2:40am ET
Field Level Media
Fresh off a dynamic performance in a Western Conference showdown, the Minnesota Timberwolves look to avoid a letdown when they visit the struggling Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
The contest will be the first of two games between the Timberwolves and Trail Blazers. The Thursday rematch also will be in Portland, the final game before the All-Star break for both clubs.
The Timberwolves led by as many as 24 on Monday night while producing an impressive 121-100 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a battle for first place in the West.
However, the Timberwolves weren't so powerful in the first half and trailed by four at the break. Then Minnesota outscored the Clippers 72-47 in the second half, including 40-19 in the third quarter.
"I didn't think we brought enough force and physicality to the game in the first half," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. "I thought we played good basketball, but there were a bunch of plays where they were way more physical than we were. They were hitting first and we were getting out of the way at times, and that's not what we do."
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and Anthony Edwards contributed 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as Minnesota improved to 2-1 on a five-game road trip. Rudy Gobert added 17 points and 10 rebounds for his 36th double-double of the season.
"I'm proud of the way we came out tonight and now we'll see if we can handle success and we're right back at it tomorrow," Gobert said postgame.
The Trail Blazers have lost four straight as they enter the third game of a seven-game homestand.
Portland has dealt with a revolving door of injuries but is expected to get high-scoring guard Anfernee Simons (sprained left ankle) back from a one-game absence.
Simons had 29 points in 25 minutes when he was injured with five minutes left in the third quarter against the NBA-worst Detroit Pistons on Thursday. The Trail Blazers led by 23 points at the time and ended up losing 128-122 in overtime.
Simons is averaging 23.4 points but has played in just 29 of Portland's 52 games. The longest absence was 18 games due to a thumb injury sustained in the season opener.
While Simons should be on the court Tuesday, rookie point guard Scoot Henderson (sprained left foot) is questionable. He missed the Detroit game and Portland's 93-84 home loss against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Malcolm Brogdon (elbow) will miss at least two weeks, while fellow guard Shaedon Sharpe underwent abdominal surgery last week and will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks.
Forward Jabari Walker said the constant barrage of injuries is taking its toll on the Trail Blazers.
"Yeah, it's tough just because we want to find a rhythm and sometimes you don't know who is playing up until the game," Walker said. "It's tough for the team. It's tough for us to rely on certain things."
Standout forward Jerami Grant is averaging 28.4 points over his past five appearances, including a career-high 49 against the Pistons.
Grant scored 24 against the Pelicans, but the offense struggled during the low-scoring game. Portland didn't manage more than 24 points in any quarter.
"I thought our defense was incredible the whole game," Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. "Our defense was lights out. That's one of the better offensive teams in the league, and we held them to 93 points. We just weren't able to manufacture points."
The Timberwolves recorded a 116-93 home win over the Trail Blazers on Jan. 12. Gobert had 24 points and 17 rebounds and Towns added 23 points. Walker paced Portland with 17 points and 13 boards.
|Portland Trail Blazers
Tue Feb 13 10:00pm ET
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