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Trail Blazers falter in middle quaters, fall into tie for seventh in NBA Western Conference

\Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 66 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves breezed to a 120-103 victory over the Trail Blazers Sunday night at the Target Center.

Butler scored 24 points, Teague 22 and Towns 20. Butler had five rebounds and four assists, Towns grabbed 11 rebounds and Teague dished out eight assists for the Timberwolves (29-16), who shot .544 on the way to their fifth straight win.

Damian Lillard collected 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and CJ McCollum and Pat Connaughton scored 18 points apiece for the Blazers (22-21), who lost their third straight game as they finished a four-game trip 1-3.

Portland has fallen into a seventh-place tie in a Western Conference race that has 1 1/2 games separating the five teams from No. 5 to 9. Oklahoma City (23-20) is fifth, New Orleans (22-20) sixth, Portland and Denver tied for seventh and the L.A. Clippers (21-21) in ninth.

Minnesota outscored Portland 26-10 in the second quarter to take a 57-43 lead into the half. Teague and Gibson each scored 10 points for the Timberwolves.

The Wolves extended their advantage to 79-55 midway through the third quarter. Connaughton led a Portland rally, scoring eight points in a 16-3 run that trimmed the margin to 82-71 late in the quarter. Minnesota increased its edge to 91-74 heading into the final period.

The lead was 112-88 with seven minutes to go. The Blazers got no closer than 17 points the rest of the way.

Portland opens a three-game homestand Tuesday against Phoenix at Moda Center.

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