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Reply To: NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 12/5/15

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Preview: Portland At Minnesota

When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Winning at home has been a troublesome task for Minnesota this season, and the Timberwolves attempt to change course when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Minnesota fell to Orlando on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game homestand to drop to 2-7 on the home surface.

The Timberwolves figure to be well-rested by going nearly 96 hours between tipoffs and interim coach Sam Mitchell gave the team a full day off before getting back to business on Thursday. “A lot of times when you only have limited practice time, you spend part of your time working on your stuff, part of your time working on your opponent’s stuff,” Mitchell told reporters. “(Thursday) was all about what we need to get better.” Portland notched an impressive 123-111 home victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday while draining a season-high 18 3-pointers. Standout point guard Damian Lillard made five 3-pointers while backup small forward Allen Crabbe went 4-for-5 from long range and has scored a career-best 18 points in each of the past two games.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, KGW (Portland), FSN North (Minnesota)

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (8-12): Portland has blown six fourth-quarter leads this season and that situation was in play again Thursday as an 11-point third-quarter advantage was cut to two in the final stanza by the Pacers. But the type of disaster that occurred on Tuesday – the Trail Blazers held a seven-point lead with less than two minutes left and ended up losing to Dallas in overtime – was averted this time. “To be put in a situation like we were, where the game could have gotten away from us, and against a really good team, it was a good win for us,” Lillard said afterward. “We did a lot of good things down the stretch.”

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (8-10): Rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month after averaging 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in his first four-plus weeks as a pro. “Just a testament to the work I put in over the summer to come out starting but it’s just one month,” Towns told reporters. “We just have to put a lot of work together not to have just one Rookie of the Month award but just to have a great team record and have the season that we imagine ourselves having.” Towns has a target to shoot for as teammate Andrew Wiggins won the monthly award five times last season on his way to capturing Rookie of the Year honors.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Lillard scored 34 points as the Trail Blazers posted a 106-101 home win over the Timberwolves on Nov. 2.

2. Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio (ankle) missed all five of his field-goal attempts and scored just three points against Orlando in his return from a two-game absence.

3. Portland PF/C Ed Davis collected 13 rebounds against Indiana and has reached double digits on the boards in five of the past seven games.

PREDICTION: Timberwolves 113, Trail Blazers 107