Blazers crush T-Wolves for second straight win
Portland coach Nate McMillan's experiment with a three-guard starting lineup has sparked the Trail Blazers.
Portland won its second consecutive game since McMillan employed a starting lineup that includes guards Brandon Roy, Andre Miller and Steve Blake. It was Miller leading the way Sunday, as he scored 21 points to lead Portland to a 116-93 win over Minnesota.
With Roy, Miller and Blake as starters, the Blazers (4-3) have won games by margins of 12 and 23 points. Against Minnesota, Portland shot 50 percent (41-for-82) from the field and outrebounded the Timberwolves 49-39.
The Trail Blazers also had 35 assists, led by Roy's seven.
"That's always a good sign when the team is moving the ball because it get everybody involved," McMillan said.
Everyone who played for Portland scored. Miller hit 9 of 14 shots in 27 minutes to score a season high for points. LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw scored 19 points each, followed by Jerryd Bayless with 12 and Greg Oden with 11.
One beneficiary of having point guards Blake and Miller in the starting lineup was Aldridge, who scored 17 points during the first half.
"Having two point guards on the floor makes it easier when I run the floor. I know one of those two guys is going to see me," said Aldridge, who grabbed 10 rebounds and went 9-of-9 from the free throw line. "When you run the floor and you get the ball I think it makes you feel like you're doing it for a good reason."
The three-guard experiment worked so well Sunday that the Blazers didn't even need Roy's usual scoring contribution. Roy, who came into the game averaging 25.2 points a game, scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting in 26 minutes, though he also had six rebounds.
It was Roy's lowest output since Nov. 10, 2006, when he failed to score in seven minutes against New Orleans. Roy didn't see his lack of scoring as a negative.
"Guys were making plays and I didn't need to score," he said.
Minnesota (1-6) lost its sixth consecutive game since winning the season opener against New Jersey. Portland outscored Minnesota by at least eight points during each of the first three quarters in routing the Timberwolves. The Blazers have won nine consecutive games over Minnesota.
It was the Timberwolves' second consecutive one-sided loss after a run of several competitive performances.
"We really didn't come out with a good effort," Minnesota guard Corey Brewer said. "Everybody says "we're young, we're this, we're that,' but we can't come in and play like this."
Minnesota had five players score in double figures. Nathan Jawai led the way with 16 points. Ryan Gomes scored 15 points, while Al Jefferson had 12 points and 10 points for the Timberwolves.
Portland dominated the first half, after getting off to a slow start. The Blazers made one of their first five shots, then hit 12 of 14 from the field to finish the first quarter to take a 33-24 lead. Portland widened its lead by halftime to 62-45 as Aldridge scored 10 points during the second quarter, eight from the free throw line.
Minnesota closed to 78-63 on Brewer's 3-pointer with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Portland responded when Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster hit 3-pointers to help the Blazers finish the period on a 14-4 run and a 92-67 lead.
Minnesota forward Kevin Love graduated from Lake Oswego High School, a Portland suburb. Love is sidelined for approximately four more weeks with a broken hand he sustained during the preseason. ... Portland starts a five-game, seven-day road trip Tuesday in Memphis. ... Minnesota has failed to score at least 100 points in its past 11 games against Portland. ... Portland's nine-game winning streak over Minnesota is longest current win streak over any team.