MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Martin scored 29 points and Ricky Rubio hit a big 3-pointer with a minute left to help the Minnesota Timberwolves snap a four-game skid with a 121-113 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Rubio had 13 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds, and his late 3 gave the Wolves a 109-102 lead. Gary Neal scored 27 off the bench and Andrew Wiggins added 18 points while playing in front of a sellout crowd for the third time in five home games since Minnesota reacquired Kevin Garnett in a trade with Brooklyn.
Damian Lillard had 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Portland, which had won five straight. LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points and eight boards for the Blazers in their first game since losing Wesley Matthews for the season to an Achilles injury.
Nikola Pekovic chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes, and the Timberwolves overcame a huge disadvantage at the 3-point line to win for the second time since Garnett returned a little more than two weeks ago. Portland went 14 of 27 on 3s to just 4 of 7 for the Wolves, but Rubio’s was the biggest.
The Blazers had trimmed a seven-point deficit to four on a putback from Robin Lopez with 1:21 to play. But with the shot clock winding down and his defender sagging off him, Rubio drilled the jumper from the left wing, and the Wolves held on.
Arron Afflalo had 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting in his first start in place of Matthews, one of Portland’s emotional leaders.
The Blazers lost Matthews to a ruptured Achilles on Thursday night, removing one of the most dependable and consistent cogs from a starting five that complements each other so well. Matthews is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, can create major problems for a defense with his ability to post up smaller guards and is a staunch defender on the perimeter with a rare combination of size, quickness and instincts.
On top of it all, he was one of the most durable Blazers, having played in 142 straight games before missing one Saturday night. To put it simply, he’s just always there for Portland.
Now that he’s done for the season, the Blazers are working on getting the recently acquired Afflalo up to speed. Afflalo has a similar skill set to Matthews, though he doesn’t shoot quite as many 3s. But the biggest challenge for him is finding his role in a starting group that had such good chemistry.
The Wolves opened the third quarter on an 18-7 run to turn a four-point deficit into a six-point lead. Wiggins and Martin did all the scoring, with the rookie putting up 10 points during the burst that got Minnesota rolling.
Trail Blazers: Lillard scored 11 points in the final 48 seconds as the Wolves gave him free runs to the hoop while preventing 3-pointers. … The Blazers’ bench was outscored by Minnesota’s 46-22.
Timberwolves: Garnett tied Kevin Willis for fifth on the career games list with 1,424. … Neal had a scare at practice on Thursday when he left with an injury the team thought was a broken hand. But X-rays showed only a bruise and he scored 11 straight at one point in the fourth quarter.
Trail Blazers: Host Houston on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
This article was written by Jon Krawczynski from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.