Trail Blazers-Timberwolves Preview
Coming off an overtime loss that snapped their three-game road winning streak, there's probably no place the Portland Trail Blazers would rather visit than Minnesota.
The Blazers have already blown out the Timberwolves three times this season to extend their winning streak against Minnesota to 11, and they can sweep their Northwest Division rivals for the third straight season with a victory Saturday night.
The Wolves haven't beaten Portland since a 94-93 home win on March 25, 2007, and they haven't made much progress based on the clubs' previous three meetings of 2009-10.
The Blazers won the first two matchups by 23, including a 107-84 win at Minnesota on Nov. 11, before posting a 106-78 home win over the Wolves on Nov. 21.
Roy was averaging 22.5 points in his first 11 games against Minnesota - 10 of them wins - but the Trail Blazers haven't even needed his contributions in this season's meetings. He averaged 11.3 points and 28 minutes in the three victories.
A jumper by Roy in the final half-minute of regulation sent Portland's game at Chicago into overtime on Friday, but he missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the extra session as the Blazers lost 115-111, squandering 32 points from LaMarcus Aldridge.
"We had our shots at it. We just didn't make the plays when we had to," Blazers coach Nate McMillan told his team's official Web site. "We were able to fight back into the game. However, they were quicker all night to the ball and quicker in running their sets. It just looked like we had heavy legs all night."
Portland (34-27) had won its previous three road games, including victories at New Jersey and Toronto this week to begin a five-game road trip, but the eighth-place club gave up ground in a crowded Western Conference playoff race.
The Blazers are in fourth place in the competitive Northwest Division, but they're 19 1/2 games ahead of the lowly Timberwolves, who lost for the eighth time in nine games Friday night at Oklahoma City.
Minnesota (14-46) never led in the 109-92 loss as the Thunder shot 54.3 percent from the field. Portland has shot at least 50 percent in each of its wins over the Wolves this season.
One bright spot for Minnesota has been Kevin Love, who was injured for all of this season's meetings with the Blazers. Coming off the bench, Love has led the Wolves in scoring in four straight games and finished with 19 points against the Thunder.
"He struggled and resisted a little bit coming off the bench but for our team, it gives us better opportunities with both of our units," Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. "Once he got himself into a comfort area in playing off the bench, his numbers just climbed right back up again."
Love grew up in Oregon watching the Blazers, but they held him to 4.5 points and 21.4 percent shooting in four meetings during his 2008-09 rookie season.