MINNEAPOLIS — LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 22 points, as the Portland Trail Blazers held on for a 100-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
The Blazers led by 19 points at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Wolves cut their deficit to 91-80 with just under five minutes left. Minnesota then opened a 16-6 run, capped with J.J. Barea’s falling layup, to pull within 97-96 with 36.9 seconds left.
Aldridge, though, buried a deep jumper over Nikola Pekovic nine seconds later. Minnesota, though, pulled back within 99-98 six seconds later when Ricky Rubio found Dante Cunningham in the lane for a slam.
The Wolves quickly fouled Luke Babbitt on the inbounds pass and he split the free-throw attempts.
Rubio then dribbled off nearly 14 seconds before firing up an off-balanced jumper that was swatted away by Aldridge, who was fouled after corralling the rebound.
Aldridge, though, missed a pair of free throws to give the Wolves one last chance to either tie or win the game.
Following a timeout, Rubio took the inbounds pass and dribbled to his right before kicking it to Cunningham at the top of the key. Cunningham shook a defender with a pump fake, but his jumper at the buzzer fell short and the Blazers held on for the win.
Cunningham, who went 9-for-9 from the field in his last game, knocked down 11-of-17 shots en route to a season-high 23 points. Rubio added 15 points and 14 assists for the Wolves, losers in 12 of their last 14 games.
“I think, even though we turned the ball over a lot, we didn’t let it bother us. We just stayed in the moment and got the job the done,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who finished with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Portland led 25-18 after the first quarter and took a 49-38 lead into the break. The Blazers outscored Minnesota, 28-20, in the third period to take a 77-58 lead into the final frame.
“We had no urgency at the start (of the game), we came out and pretty much let them do what they wanted to do,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “In the fourth quarter, we turned it up and the energy was high. We got some turnovers and made some shots, but when you get that far down it gets too hard to come back.”