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Portland spreads ball around but can't finish the job against Butler-led Minnesota Timberwolves

Most of the game, the Trail Blazers played smoothly on offense and with plenty of zip at the end of a five-game trip.

But at the end, the Minnesota Timberwolves surged from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to pull out a 108-107 win Monday at Minneapolis.

Portland, which had won three in a row, fell to 16-14, while Minnesota went to 18-13 in the NBA Western Conference race for fourth place.

Denver dropped 16-14 with a 95-94 loss at Oklahoma City, which improved to 15-15.

Portland got 20 points each from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, along with 17 from Damian Lillard and 13 from Al-Farouq Aminu in the starting lineup.

Off the bench, guard Shabazz Napier scored 15 points in 18 minutes, and forward Ed Davis had seven rebounds (four on offense) and 10 points in 20 minutes.

The Blazers shot 54.8 percent from the field, with 26 assists on 46 baskets. Minnesota hit 46.2 percent.

Timberwolves star swing man Jimmy Butler, who suffered a back injury in a Saturday loss to Phoenix managed to go for a game-high 37 points.

The teams were tied at 24-24 going into the second quarter.

Lillard didn't get a basket until inside the final minute of the first half, but the Blazers went to the break on top 54-51.

Lillard had four points and nine assists in the half, while McCollum had 12, Aminu 11 and Nurkic 10, with those three going a combined 14 of 22 from the field. Aminu was 3 for 3 on 3's, and Portland hit 9 of 14 from beyond the arc.

With more good passing and hustle, the Blazers worked their way into a 85-76 lead through three quarters.

Then it was largely a question of whether the Blazers' energy would hold up.

Portland had a stretch in which they scored on nine of 10 possessions, yet their lead still was only one point inside the three-minute mark.

With 1:00 left, Butler sank two free throws to give Minny a 106-105 lead.

McCollum's 18-foot off top off the dribble regained the lead for Portland.

Butler's long 2 rimmed out, but Lillard couldn't connect inside in traffic. The Timberwolves rebounded and called a timeout with 8.6 seconds to go.

Butler drove from the left side to the hoop and got hammered with 2.5 seconds remaining, then made two free throws for a 108-107 advantage.

Portland called a timeout and inbounded at midcourt.

Lillard got the ball but got doubled and had no time to make a pass or do anything but hoist a hopeful, contested, long 3 that was off the target.

Portland's next two games will be at Moda Center. The Blazers will take on San Antonio on Wednesday and Denver on Friday, both starting at 7 p.m.

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