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Hot T'wolves Burn Blazers

The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing so well, even giving up 18 straight points can't slow them down.

Terrell Brandon had 22 points and 11 assists as the Timberwolves overcame a big run by the Portland Trail Blazers to win their sixth straight game, 93-80 Saturday.

"We played for 48 minutes and stuck to our game plan," Minnesota's Kevin Garnett said. "We forced them to miss some shots. We beat probably the best team in the NBA."

Brandon, who is shooting better than 60 percent during the winning streak, made eight straight shots at one point and 10 of 14 for the game. He registered his sixth double-double of the season.

"I'm a true point guard," Brandon said. "I'm still looking to pass first and shoot second or third. But I still demand the ball because I know the offense is supposed to go through the point guard."

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  • LaPhonso Ellis added 16 points of 8-of-11 shooting off the Timberwolves' bench, and he pulled down nine rebounds.

    The loss prevented Portland coach Mike Dunleavy from clinching the All-Star coaching spot in the Western Conference. Dunleavy could still get it if Sacramento lost to the Clippers later Saturday night.

    Minnesota led 47-39 at halftime and looked to break the game open by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter to go up by 18 with 9:17 to play. But Bonzi Wells, who led Portland with 21 points, scored seven consecutive points to key an 18-0 run that tied the score with 5:15 left.

    Asked what he was thinking during the run, Minnesota coach Flip Sauners deadpanned, "I was just glad we were up by 18 when it happened."

    But Saunders inserted Ellis in the game, and he responded with consecutive baskets. Ellis scored eight of the team's final 16 points in the quarter as the Wolves led 73-67 going into the fourth quarter.

    Brandon took over in the fourth quarter. He made three consecutive jumpers to give Minnesota an 80-70 lead with 8:38 to play.

    Greg Anthony answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Blazers within four, but the Wolves got big plays from two reserves

    a three-point play by Reggie Slater and a 3-pointer by Todd Day to go up 86-78.

    "We see these guys every day in practice," Brandon said of the Wolves' bench. "The starters set the tone, and we know we'll get great support from anyone who comes into the game."

    Garnett added 19 points for Minnesota, and his defense hassled the Blazers' Rasheed Wallace into a 4-for-20, 10-point performance. The Wolves held Portland scoreless over the final 4:11 of the game.

    "We made some good runs but used up a lot of energy," Dunleavy said. "Minnesota is a tough place to play at the end of a road trip."

    Portland shot just 39 percent for the game, while Minnesota shot 52 percent in the first meeting between the teams since the Blazers dismissed the Wolves in the first round of the playoffs last year.


  • The Timberwolves honored the late Bill Musselman, their first coach, with a pregame ceremony. Musselman was serving as an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers when he died from primary systemic amyloidosis on May 5.
  • Minnesota guard Chauncey Billups missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. Portland center Arvydas Sabonis missed his third game in a row with back spasms.
  • The Timberwolves began a stretch of nine straight games against teams .500 or better.
  • Wallace picked up his NBA-leading 25th technical foul in the third quarter.

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