Two teams in the hunt for a Western Conference postseason spot square off this evening in Rip City, as the Minnesota Timberwolves pay a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
The Timberwolves are 3 1/2 games behind Houston and Denver for the seventh and eighth seed in the conference standings, but haven't been competitive over the past few weeks. They have lost nine of 13 games, including Friday's 100-79 setback versus the Boston Celtics at Target Center. Kevin Love had 22 points and 11 rebounds, but went just 5-of-18 from the field.
"They got baskets in the paint and they just came out and took it to us," Love said of the Celtics. "You can tell they're in playoff mode right now. They've won six of the last seven, so they're playing good basketball now."
Minnesota's 21 turnovers led to 16 points for the Celtics. Luke Ridnour had 15 points and eight assists, while Derrick Williams scored 14 in defeat for the Wolves, who will also visit Sacramento on the short road trip and own a 12-15 mark as the visitor this season.
Wolves guard J.J. Barea (quad) and forward Michael Beasley (toe) did not play Friday and could be out again tonight. Barea has missed four straight games.
Portland has slipped a bit over the past month or so, having dropped 12 of its last 18 games. It has alternated wins and losses over the previous seven and is coming off Friday's 98-97 setback at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge sat out with a sprained left elbow, but J.J. Hickson filled in with a season-high 29 points to go with 13 rebounds. Nicolas Batum added 18 points and Jamal Crawford finished with 14, including a go-ahead basket that made it 97-96 with 13.9 seconds to go.
"We feel we competed for 48 minutes," said Portland interim head coach Kaleb Canales. "Give them credit, we just came up a little short. We just didn't make enough basketball plays at the end and they did."
The Blazers are four games off the seventh and eighth spot in the West and own a 17-9 record in the Rose City this season. They will also host Utah and New Jersey on this three-game homestand. Aldridge is questionable for Sunday.
Portland has lost the first two of three meetings with Minnesota this season after winning the previous 16 encounters. The Blazers are still 17-3 in the past 20 contests between the teams and had an 11-game home winning streak stopped with a 122-110 loss on March 3.
Minnesota has lost 13 of 17 and 14 of its last 20 trips to Rip City.