- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Portland Trail Blazers looked lost through the first 26 minutes of the game in Minnesota. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were whisper quiet and the Timberwolves were up big again.

It turns out the Blazers had the Wolves right where they wanted them.

Damian Lillard overcame a slow start to finish with 19 points and seven assists and the Trail Blazers rallied from 17 points down in the third quarter to beat the Timberwolves 109-103 on Saturday night.

Lillard missed nine of his first 12 shots. But his driving layup with 18.8 seconds left helped hold off a charge from the Timberwolves, who also gave up a 17-point lead to the Blazers in their home opener on Nov. 2.

“It’s tough to come back from 17 on the road and now we’ve done it twice here,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t know what to say about that.”

Neither do the Timberwolves, who at 6-3 have the second best road winning percentage in the league, but are a ghastly 2-8 at home.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins scored 17 for Minnesota.

“It seems like when we get to a point that we are like 10, 12 up, we kind of relax,” said Wolves guard Ricky Rubio, who had 15 assists and nine points.

C.J. McCollum scored 17 points, Al-Farouq Aminu scored 16 points and Meyers Leonard had 14 for the Blazers.

Lillard and McCollum combine to score more than 44 points per game this season. But they were a combined 3 for 13 for seven points in the first half.

The Wolves led 63-46 early in the third before McCollum sparked a surge with two 3s and a layup to cut it to 75-73. Lillard tied it with a drive, then finished the Wolves off in the fourth.

After the Wolves trimmed a six-point deficit to one, Lillard drilled a 3 and McCollum scored on a tough drive for a 100-94 lead with 3:32 to play.

“I don’t think we came in like, ‘All right if we get down we can still do it because we did it last time,’” Lillard said. “You never know but that’s been our mindset period. If you’re up we’ve got to keep playing. If we’re down we’ve got to keep playing. And we did it again tonight.”

FOURTH QUARTER TOWNS

Towns, the No. 1 overall pick, had played less than 3 minutes total in the fourth quarters of the four previous games. His lack of playing time had become a point of consternation among Timberwolves fans, with interim coach Sam Mitchell saying the team was trying to avoid burning out the 20-year-old so early in the season.

He played 8:14 on Saturday night and responded with seven points, including a 3-pointer that trimmed the deficit to two with 1:13 to play. He had a chance to put the Wolves in front with another 3 from the left wing, but it was a little too strong.

“I was already thinking in my mind about celebrating what I was going to do,” Towns said. “It felt really good. It felt way better than the last one. My team trusted me to take that shot and make it and take us home and I just didn’t deliver today.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Portland commits more fouls per game than all but two teams. The Blazers had 15 fouls in the first half to give the Wolves 19 free throws. They only had six fouls in the second half. … They were 10 for 20 on 3s.

Timberwolves: Rookie PG Tyus Jones, who has played in just 14 minutes over two games this season, has been assigned to the Idaho Stampede in the D-League. … Kevin Garnett became the 15th player in NBA history to surpass 26,000 career points. … The Wolves shot 32 percent and allowed Portland to make 67 percent of its shots in the fourth.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Visit Milwaukee on Monday.

Timberwolves: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

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