Lillard's 24 Points Lead Blazers Past Timberwolves
Damian Lillard scored 24 points, J.J. Hickson added 18 points and 16 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-96 on Saturday night to earn only their second win in nearly a month.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and eight rebounds for Portland, which had six players score in double-figures. The Blazers jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 18, while the Timberwolves never challenged.
Derrick Williams had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the Wolves, who have dropped their last five games and 21 of 25. Luke Ridnour added 18 points and six assists, and former Blazer Dante Cunningham had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Blazers entered the game having lost eight of their last nine to fall back in the playoff hunt. Portland is in 10th place in the Western Conference, behind the L.A. Lakers and Houston. The Blazers' only win since Feb. 4 was last Sunday over Boston.
Injured Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy returned to the Rose Garden for the first time since coming out of retirement to join Minnesota last summer. Roy was a three-time All-Star and NBA rookie of the year in Portland before deteriorating knees forced him to quit after the 2010-11 season. He is still beloved in Portland, where he was the biggest star since Clyde Drexler.
Sitting on the bench in a dress shirt and tie, Roy received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the big screen during a second quarter timeout. Roy hasn't played since undergoing his seventh knee surgery on Nov. 19, "but I'm still excited to be here and see the fans," he said before the game.
Roy's injury is far from Minnesota's only problem. The Wolves were missing three starters - leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love (broken hand), forward Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain).
The Wolves shot just 39 percent from the field and made just one of 12 3-point attempts.
NOTES: Portland has dominated the series, having taken 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams at the Rose Garden and 21 of 23 in the series overall. ... Roy said his knee troubles haven't caused him to rethink his return. "I am still young and if I was to stop playing basketball, I don't know what I would do," he said. Nonetheless, he said he is at peace. "If I never play another game, I am completely satisfied with my career."
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)