Shorthanded Wolves fall short

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 9, 2014 - 12:49 AM

With Love, Martin out, Portland pulls away in fourth.

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This time it was Ricky Rubio lingering in the cold tub after the game, getting extra treatment in the training room, moving slowly, gingerly to his locker room long after Saturday’s game had ended.

“I got the hits for Kevin Martin and Kevin Love tonight,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Rubio smiled. Or was that grimaced? With both Martin and Love out of the game, and with center Nikola Pekovic missing his seventh consecutive game, the Timberwolves, led by a remarkably aggressive Rubio, played a gutty game but again lost their grip on it in the fourth quarter. The result: a 117-110 loss to Portland at Target Center.

It was not for lack of trying.

The Wolves knew hours before the game that Martin — who broke the thumb in his left (non-shooting) hand Friday in New Orleans — would be out. But it wasn’t until a half-hour before tipoff that word came that Love would be out, too, this time because of a quadriceps contusion. Those two plus Pekovic meant that those still standing had to make up for the loss of about 62 points per game.

They nearly did.

Rubio had a career night, hitting eight of 19 shots and going 2-for-4 on three-pointers on the way to 25 points and nine assists. He and rookie Shabazz Muhammad (12 points) each had career highs. Corey Brewer scored 26, Chase Budinger had 19 and Dante Cunningham had 14.

And it wasn’t enough against the league’s highest-scoring team.

“We couldn’t get stops,” Budinger said. “It happened all game. You let a team score about 120 points, it’s going to be tough to beat them.’’

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points, six coming in a stretch in which Portland took over what was a tie game in the fourth quarter. C.J. McCollum scored 19 off the bench. Wesley Matthews scored 21, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

Indeed, given how different the Wolves lineup looked Saturday, it’s remarkable how familiar the game felt. Minnesota (24-27) lost its third consecutive and its fifth in six games in a very familiar manner.

Working hard and working together, the Wolves had a six-point lead late in the third quarter. But the Trail Blazers (36-15) scored the final six points of the quarter to tie the score at 83.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 87, Aldridge scored six points in an 11-1 run that put Portland up 98-88. The Wolves trimmed it to five once, but never were able to get enough stops to get back into the game.

And if not having Pekovic, Martin and Love was an excuse, it didn’t make anyone feel better.

“Those are our big guns,” Brewer said. “All we could do is play hard and give ourselves a chance to win. We played our butts off tonight. We got some tough breaks in the fourth quarter, and we just couldn’t win it.”

Not when the Blazers score 34 fourth-quarter points. Not when the Wolves make only one of seven three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Different lineup, same result. And now the Wolves are three games under .500 for the first time since Jan. 17, and the schedule is getting harder.

Neither Pekovic nor Martin are expected to play until after the All-Star break. Love’s prognosis is less certain. He has played through an ankle injury and a whiplash-induced sore neck, but it’s unclear when he will be back.

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Cleveland 47 3rd Qtr 9:11
Indiana 55
Washington 46 3rd Qtr 10:01
Philadelphia 47
Golden State 45 2nd Qtr 4:48
Toronto 23
New York 33 2nd Qtr 3:20
Detroit 51
Orlando 34 2nd Qtr 3:12
Atlanta 38
Charlotte 49 3rd Qtr
Boston 45
LA Clippers 15 1st Qtr 2:55
Memphis 9
Brooklyn 29 1st Qtr 2:56
Houston 18
Miami 19 1st Qtr 2:59
New Orleans 22
Minnesota 19 1st Qtr 2:57
Chicago 21
Utah 8:00 PM
Denver
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Portland
Boston 1 3rd Prd
New Jersey 0
Calgary 0 2nd Prd 1:29
NY Islanders 1
Washington 0 2nd Prd 5:59
Carolina 2
Chicago 0 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 0
Colorado 7:30 PM
Dallas
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 45 2nd Half 0:23
Cornell 54
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Brown 54
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Iona 48
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Marist 54
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Yale 51
Ohio 19 1st Half 6:54
Akron 15
Dartmouth 13 1st Half 11:56
Columbia 17
Valparaiso 9:00 PM
Cleveland State
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 68 2nd Half 8:03
Xavier 41
Cornell 27 2nd Half 20:00
Harvard 23
Yale 32 2nd Half 8:10
(14) Princeton 57
Elon 40 2nd Half 6:11
Drexel 45
Northeastern 30 2nd Half 15:52
James Madison 43
St Johns 47 2nd Half 9:06
Butler 37
Creighton 59 2nd Half 7:17
Georgetown 52
Brown 40 2nd Half 9:29
Penn 59
Columbia 29 2nd Half 13:30
Dartmouth 39
Canisius 36 2nd Half 7:52
Siena 41
St Josephs Brooklyn 19 2nd Half 16:29
NJIT 41
Western Carolina 49 2nd Half 14:34
UNC Greensboro 43
Colorado 19 1st Half 6:54
Arizona 17
Southern Ill 18 1st Half 11:54
Bradley 17
Drake 13 1st Half 9:52
Wichita State 16
Indiana State 23 1st Half 6:38
Evansville 17
Illinois State 13 1st Half 11:45
Loyola-Chicago 13
Northern Iowa 12 1st Half 11:47
Missouri State 14
Utah 7:30 PM
(10) Arizona State
Providence 7:30 PM
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