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Wolves ease off Blazers with Comeback Win

BASKETBALL By AFP | April 4th 2017

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 34 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves cooled off the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers with a 110-109 NBA victory on Monday.

Portland's Damian Lillard had a solid look at what would have been a game-winning shot, but his jumper lipped out at the buzzer and the Blazers' six-game winning streak came to an end.

At 38-39, Portland are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets.

They play their next three games against playoff-bound teams.

Monday's contest -- the only NBA game of the day -- was a makeup game of one that was postponed on March 6 because condensation on the court made it unsafe.

Portland led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before the Timberwolves stormed back to seize a three-point lead going into the final period.

A 7-0 scoring run briefly put the Trail Blazers back on top.

Towns hit a big one-handed basket with 57.3 seconds remaining to give the Timberwolves a five-point lead.

He capped his night with a two-handed dunk over Al-Farouq Aminu to give Minnesota a 110-106 lead with 35 seconds to play.

A shot from Andrew Wiggins, who scored 29 points for Minnesota, went out of bounds with 4.9 seconds to play to give Portland one last chance.

Lillard, the Western Conference player of the month for March, couldn't make it and Portland lost for the first time since March 21.

"You just want to win this game," Lillard said. "We've been on a roll. Coming in against a team that doesn't really have anything to play for, you want to come in here and take advantage of that."

While it's true the Timberwolves are out of the running for this year's playoffs, Towns said the young team had plenty to play for.

"I think we're building something," he said. "Regardless of what our record is, we've got to go out there and play basketball the right way. ... Every game, every second, every practice, every workout is valuable to building a championship team, and that's how we need to look at it."

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