The Minnesota Timberwolves shoot for a third straight win game homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers in a pivotal Northwest Division battle at the Target Center.
Two nights after beating the Blazers for the first time in 17 tries, the Timberwolves made it two straight wins overall on Monday, as Kevin Love scored his team's final four points down the stretch en route to a 39-point, 17- rebound performance in Minnesota's 95-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chris Paul had a chance to tie the game for the Clippers with 2.7 seconds left after being fouled by rookie Derrick Williams on a three-point attempt. Paul connected on the first two free throws, but missed badly on the third allowing Minnesota to escape with the victory.
Williams played well despite the foul, scoring 15 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Darko Milicic and Luke Ridnour scored 13 and 12, respectively, as the Timberwolves improved to 3-0 this season against the Clippers.
"We were able to hit shots and persevere in the end," said Love after the game. "It seems like we do everything necessary to win, especially in tight games like this, from the rookies all the way up to the veterans making winning plays."
The victory also kept the Timberwolves a half-game in front of Portland, which used a balanced attack to beat the struggling New Orleans Hornets on Monday. Nicolas Batum led five Trail Blazers in double figures with 19 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Raymond Felton each recorded double-doubles in their 86-74 drubbing of the lowly Hornets.
Aldridge posted 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Felton chipped in 11 points and 10 assists for Portland, which climbed back to .500 (19-19) by snapping a three-game losing streak.
Gerald Wallace (13) and Wesley Matthews (12) rounded out the Blazers' high scorers.
"Well we needed it. We needed a win desperately," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "You drop your first three games coming off of the break and you're not playing well and you're about to go on a seven game road trip - really important for us to get this win tonight against New Orleans and now try to build off of this win on the road."
Tonight's contest kicks off a seven-game stretch on the road, where the Blazers are 5-12 this season. Portland, though, has won eight in a row in Minnesota.