MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points and Damian Lillard added 25 points and 10 assists as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-121 on Saturday night.
Enes Kanter had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Portland.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 34 points and 10 rebounds, while rookie Anthony Edwards had 21 points and eight boards. The Timberwolves have lost 14 of 16 and are 1-6 under new coach Chris Finch.
Anthony, who passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 11th place on the NBA’s career scoring list, shot 7 of 12 from the field and went 8 for 8 from the free throw line. But his biggest play of the night was a pass that helped the Blazers seal the victory.
Leading by three in the final minute, Portland worked the ball around to Anthony at the top of the key. He immediately fired a pass to Derrick Jones Jr. alone under the hoop for a dunk that sunk Minnesota’s comeback hopes.
“I knew DJ was in the corner before the ball even swung to me, and I know what he likes to do — he likes to cut back door,” Anthony said. “I’m just playing off of instincts. If somebody had stepped over, I would’ve made the pass to the corner. It’s just playing off instincts and trying to make the right play.”
It’s a play the Blazers have become accustomed to seeing from Anthony.
“Melo’s a savvy vet,” Jones said. “He knows the reads to make and what to do on the floor. … It was a great pass. I just had to finish it.”
Lillard, the NBA’s third-leading scorer at 29.9 points per game, was held to 10 on 2-of-6 shooting in the first half, but Portland still led 66-57 at the break, thanks in part to Anthony’s 10 points off the bench.
“Having a guy like Melo on nights like this, he can really get it going,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “To have a guy who can get you 26 points off the bench is a luxury.”
Towns scored 13 points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half, including nine in a 12-0 run that tied the game at 76.
Portland quickly regained control, as Lillard hit a long 2-pointer and set up Gary Trent Jr. for a 3 that put the Blazers up 83-76.
But the Timberwolves wouldn’t go away. Naz Reid, giving Towns a breather, scored six points and Jaden McDaniels hit a 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left in the quarter to give Minnesota a 94-93 lead heading into the fourth.
“I think we played well in stretches, but one thing we’ve struggled with all year long is being able to sustain that level of focus, that level of high-quality play,” Lillard said. “This might’ve been a game where we go to the hotel (angry), but we got it done. In the end, we got the job done, and that shows growth.”
CLIMBING THE LIST
When Anthony hit a 3 with 8:37 to play, it didn’t just tie the game at 101. The basket also moved him past Olajuwon.
“I always say he’s a Hall of Fame player, and every game we give him a game ball for passing someone on the charts,” Lillard said of Anthony, who at 36 is in his second season with the Blazers and 18th overall in the NBA.
Anthony has 26,955 career points. Next up on the list is another Rockets big man, Elvin Hayes, with 27,313 points.
“It’s a great feeling to know that I’m still able to do this and continue to have an opportunity to move on that list,” Anthony said. “Any time anyone can start creeping up on a top-10 list, that’s when things start getting special.”
Trail Blazers: Kanter matched his season average of 12 points per game in the first eight minutes. … Lillard is the only player in the NBA this season averaging at least 29 points and seven assists.
Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, who scored a career-high 28 points on Thursday in a victory over New Orleans, followed that performance with 17 points in 28 minutes off the bench. … Minnesota continues to play without its second-leading scorer, guard Malik Beasley, who is serving a 12-game suspension after pleading guilty to a felony count of threats of violence stemming from an incident in September. Beasley is eligible to return on March 27. He’s averaging 20.5 points per game.
The teams face each other again in Minneapolis on Sunday night.
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