April 07, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Allen Crabbe had 25 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-98 Thursday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Damian Lillard added 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Portland, which held onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference ahead of the Denver Nuggets with three games to go.

Andrew Wiggins had 36 points for the Timberwolves, who have already been eliminated. Karl-Anthony Towns added 24 points and 16 rebounds.

After trailing by 15 points in the third quarter, Crabbe's running 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 92-89 lead with 8:25 left. Lillard added a layup and Crabbe made another 3 to push the lead to 97-91 while the Timberwolves went cold.

Wiggins' pull-up jumper narrowed it to 99-94 with 2:40 left. Lillard made a pair of free throws with just under a minute to go and the Timberwolves couldn't catch up.

It was the third time the teams played in two weeks. On Monday, Towns had 34 points and Minnesota snapped Portland's six-game winning streak with a 110-109 home victory.

The game at the Target Center was originally scheduled to be played on March 6, but condensation on the court forced it to be postponed - the reason for the quirky schedule between the two teams. The Blazers beat the Timberwolves 112-100 on March 25 in Portland.

It was the fourth game for Portland without big man Jusuf Nurkic, who sparked the team after coming over in a trade from Denver at the deadline. He will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a fractured right leg but was out on the court putting up practice shots about 90 minutes before tip on Thursday.

Minnesota outscored the Blazers 34-20 in the first quarter, led by Ricky Rubio with 13 points.

Portland struggled from the field throughout the first half and couldn't close the gap. The Timberwolves led 61-53 at the break, led by Wiggins with 21.

Minnesota extended the lead to 70-55 in the third quarter on Brandon Rush's dunk.

Portland rallied to get within 72-65 on Lillard's layup. Eric Turner got the Blazers closer with a layup before CJ McCollum hit on a 3-pointer that cut Minnesota's lead to 72-70. Noah Vonleh made a pair of free throws to tie it and cap a 17-2 Portland run.

The Blazers pulled close again with 9:13 left when Crabbe's 3-pointer and free throw narrowed it to 87-86. Portland finally went ahead on another 3 by Crabbe.

The Blazers outscored Minnesota 25-11 in the fourth quarter.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts said that of course he'd like to have already sewn up a spot in the playoffs, but this time of year is exciting for the league.

''It's fun to be a part of it. You look at the East with three or four teams playing for a spot,'' Stotts said. ''It's a fun time of year.''

TIP INS

Timberwolves: Even though the Timberwolves have been eliminated, coach Tom Thibodeau said the team was taking steps in the right direction. ''You have to build a foundation, and you have to do it step by step,'' he said before the game.

Trail Blazers: Al-Farouq Aminu had his sixth straight game scoring in double digits, a career high. He finished with 14 points.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Minnesota visits the Jazz on Friday night.

Trail Blazers: The Jazz turn around and visit Portland on Saturday night.

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