Love, Timberwolves visit Trail Blazers

The Minnesota Timberwolves and returning star Kevin Love will try to stop a three-game losing skid Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Love shocked everyone with his return Wednesday night.

"The biggest thing will be just me getting back into game shape and, you know, knowing that when we have a drought, to play through me," said Love, who missed the start of the season with a broken hand. "I just haven't been there and I think, the hand, it's only been five weeks. When it gets to eight weeks, then hopefully I'll be back to, you know, the real Kevin Love."

If Wednesday's version wasn't the real Kevin Love, it wasn't a bad impression.

Love scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in 34 minutes of action, but the Timberwolves fell to the Denver Nuggets, 101-94. Not only was it Minnesota's third straight loss, but all three came at home.

The Timberwolves' only other double-figure scorers on Wednesday night were a pair also returning from injury.

Center Nikola Pekovic missed the previous two with a sprained left ankle and netted 10 points against Denver. J.J. Barea had been out the last five games, but he came back with 10 points off the bench.

The Trail Blazers had a three-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday. They fell to the Phoenix Suns, 114-87. All five Portland players scored in double- figures, but the bench combined for 13 points.

The Suns shot 59.7 percent in the victory and it's pretty easy to surmise that Portland ranks very poorly in defensive categories in the NBA. They are last in opponents scoring and last in opponents field goal percentage. The Blazers allow 102.9 ppg and their adversaries shoot over 50 percent a night.

"If a team shoots 60 percent all night long then we didn't do a lot right defensively," said head coach Terry Stotts on his team's defensive play Wednesday night. "

Portland has surrendered 100 points or more in seven of their 11 games, but had played better defensively in their three-game winning streak. The Blazers gave up an average of 99 ppg and the one game that skewered the results was a 119-117 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets.

Scoring is not a problem for the Trail Blazers. All five Portland starters average double-figures and LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum both score over 20 ppg.

The Timberwolves begin a four-game west-coast trip with Friday's game. They snapped a 16-game slide to the Trail Blazers by winning the first two meetings last season, including one in Portland, before dropping the third and final encounter.