Trail Blazers-Timberwolves Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Kevin Love recently helped the Minnesota Timberwolves end their lengthy losing streak against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The All-Star forward and 3-point champion will now try to put an end to another skid in this series.
About five years have passed since the Timberwolves won five consecutive home games or defeated the Trail Blazers in Minneapolis, a pair of droughts they can end Wednesday night as Portland begins a crucial road trip.
Averaging just 12.3 points in four previous games in Portland, Love exploded for a season-best 42 - one off his career high - and grabbed 10 rebounds in Saturday's 122-110 victory over the Blazers.
Minnesota (20-19) had lost 16 in a row to Love's hometown team.
"I've always been a big fan (of the Blazers), so in some ways it means a lot," he said after hitting five 3-pointers. "But more than anything we wanted to stop that 16-game losing streak."
Portland, though, has won eight straight in Minnesota since March 25, 2007, winning by an average of 17.2 points in its last five visits.
The Timberwolves have won their last three games there by a total of four points, and are now eyeing their first 5-0 run at home since Dec. 26, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007.
While coach Rick Adelman called Saturday's game in Portland one of Minnesota's best wins of the season, it might not have been Love's top performance.
His 39 points and 17 boards keyed Monday's 95-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers as the Timberwolves opened a four-game homestand.
"The great thing about him is he gets what he wants and he's such a good free-throw shooter that it all adds up," Adelman said after Love made five 3s and finished 8 of 11 from the foul line.
Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge also has very good when shooting free throws, hitting a career-best 80.5 percent this season, but he hasn't attempted one in the last three games.
The Blazers didn't need much from the first-time All-Star as they snapped a three-game skid with Monday's 86-74 win over Western Conference-worst New Orleans, but they want Aldridge more involved in the offense as they open a season-high seven-game trip.
"Teams are taking me out," he said Monday after having 10 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. "I haven't had a clean post-up in three or four games."
Aldridge finished with 14 points with seven boards against Minnesota on Saturday when Portland (19-19) dropped below .500 for the first time this season.
Having dropped outside the West playoff picture, the Trail Blazers can't afford to open this 12-day stretch away from home with a loss. Their trip also includes stops in Boston, Indiana, New York, Chicago and Oklahoma City.
"We know we've got a lot of work to do," said coach Nate McMillan, whose team is 5-12 away from home.
Portland has not reached 100 points in 12 consecutive road games, its longest such stretch since 2006-07. Gerald Wallace is averaging 9.3 points on the road this season compared to 17.1 at home.
Minnesota has won four of six overall despite Ricky Rubio shooting 9 for 45 from the field. Fellow rookie Derrick Williams has stepped up in that span to average 14.3 points while going 11 of 21 from 3-point range.
It's unclear if Timberwolves starting center Nikola Pekovic will return after sitting out Monday with a sore foot.
Updated March 6, 2012