Thursday, Jan. 7: Blazers 135, Timberwolves 117
The skinny: After dropping a disappointing game against undermanned Chicago, the Trail Blazers took care of business against Minnesota, which has been playing without Karl-Anthony Towns, on Thursday at Moda Center.
Damian Lillard scored 39 points, going 7 of 12 on 3-pointers, and added seven rebounds and seven assists in only 29 minutes of play and the Blazers beat Minnesota 135-117.
CJ McCollum added 20 points for the Blazers (4-4), who shot nearly 60% and made 15 3-pointers through three quarters. The Blazers led by as many as 33 points. Lillard and McCollum sat out the fourth quarter.
Portland started somewhat slowly, missing its first five 3-point attempts and going 1 of 9 from long range in the first quarter. But, Carmelo Anthony scored on a drive late in the first quarter to draw Portland within 29-28, and then the Blazers took control in the second quarter with a 15-0 run that put them ahead 54-36. Lillard's driving basket made the lead 21 points late in the quarter; they scored 47 points in the second quarter.
D'Angelo Russell and rookie Anthony Edwards scored 26 points for Minnesota (2-6). The third piece in Minnesota's master plan, Towns, has been out with a wrist injury.
Quotable: "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive and be more assertive and try to lead the charge. It ended up being a great team effort," Lillard said.
Bigs good: Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter combined for 27 points, 14 rebounds,
Big numbers: The Blazers, who made 19 3-pointers on 51 attempts against Chicago, went 18 of 41 against the Timberwolves while shooting .544 overall.
Meanwhile, the Blazers held Minnesota to .419 shooting.
Little returns: Nassir Little made his first appearance since March 10, the last game before the 2019-20 season was stopped because of the emerging coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic. He sat out all the games in the NBA bubble — he took a fall in practice and went through concussion protocol — and then missed the first seven games this season while dealing with COVID-19 (as reported by The Athletic).
Little, a 6-5 second-year player, made his one and only shot attempt.
Hood returns: Rodney Hood returned to the lineup after nursing a quad strain, and scored two points in 16 minutes.
Next up: The Blazers play at Sacramento, 7 p.m. Saturday, before returning to play Toronto at 7 p.m. Monday at Moda Center.
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