Found December 18, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
Damian Lillard's clutch shooting is the latest reason whythe Portland Trail Blazers own the best record in the NBA.A meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves may not requiresuch heroics.Lillard and the Trail Blazers hope to make things a loteasier on themselves Wednesday night when they try to continue their dominanceof the Timberwolves.Portland (22-4) is on the cusp of sweeping a four-game roadtrip with a sixth straight win after Lillard hit a go-ahead 3 with 0.4 secondsleft in Tuesday's 119-116 victory at Cleveland. That came two days after the2013 NBA Rookie of the Year connected on a fadeaway jumper as time expired tocinch a 111-109 overtime win at Detroit.Lillard's performances went well beyond the clutch shooting,totaling 59 points over the last two games. That includes a season-high 36points with 10 assists and eight rebounds against the Cavaliers, while hisdecisive 3 was his career-best eighth of the contest."There is no explaining it," coach Terry Stottssaid. "Damian had it going, so we ran it through him."That may only continue since Lillard averaged 23.3 points on54.5 percent from the floor - 9 for 20 from beyond the arc - while helping theTrail Blazers win all four meetings with Minnesota (12-13) last season.Portland has dominated the Timberwolves, winning 21 of thepast 23 matchups - 10 of 11 at Minnesota. The Blazers have won five straightoverall in the series, averaging 106.6 points.LaMarcus Aldridge has been limited to 19.0 points - morethan four below his season average - and 8.8 rebounds during that run. Hescored 17 in a 109-94 home win March 2.The forward, though, seems poised for an increase inproduction since he's averaging 25.6 points and 14.8 boards during Portland'sfive-game overall win streak.Minnesota is looking to bounce back from Monday's 101-97loss at Boston, and showing improvement from the field would certainly help.The Timberwolves shot 37.8 percent from the floor - 8 for 29 from long range -against the Celtics.Kevin Love is averaging 33.0 points over the past threegames, but he was partly responsible for the latest struggles. He made 9 of 26field goals while missing 9 of 11 from behind the arc to finish with 27 pointsand 14 rebounds Monday."I shot the ball good, it just didn't go in," Lovesaid. "It was that way for all of our team. ... We shot the ball prettybad the whole game. We beat that team the majority of the time we playthem."Love, who will likely find himself matched up with Aldridge,averages 30.3 points while sinking 9 of 21 from 3-point range over his lastfour meetings with the Blazers. However, he missed the past three due to abroken hand.Corey Brewer is averaging 12.9 points, but just 7.3 over thepast three games. He had a season-low four points while going 1 for 8 from thefloor in Boston.
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