The Minnesota Timberwolves completed a four-game season sweep of Portland on Monday night, beating the Trail Blazers, 119-114, despite not having star Anthony Edwards available for the opening tip.

Edwards, who usually spends much of pregame warmups doing resistance band work outside the team locker room, was delayed in coming out for the opening tip-off and didn’t check in until the first whistle, later saying that he “lost track of time.” 

Nickeil Alexander-Walker started in place of Edwards and scored 13 points, including a couple of key buckets in the third quarter. 

Rudy Gobert had 25 points and 16 rebounds for his 43rd double-double of the season, and Michael Conley added 19 points and seven assists.

With the win, Minnesota (43-19) moved into first place in the Western Conference over Oklahoma City, which lost to the Lakers in Los Angeles later Monday. The Timberwolves are an NBA-best 30-9 against Western Conference opponents, 20-5 against teams with a less than .500 record and 23-8 at Target Center, for the league’s fifth-best home record.

“It was a point of emphasis for us coming into the season,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said before the game of handling lower-ranked teams.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 points, Edwards had 13, and Naz Reid added 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point distance for Minnesota, which was playing its fifth game in seven nights and completed a seven-game homestand with a 4-3 record.

Anfernee Simons had 34 points, 14 assists and five rebounds, and Duop Reath shot 5 for 6 from long distance and scored a career-high 26 points for Portland, which was playing its third game in four nights.

We absolutely had to have this one,” said Finch, whose team was coming off back-to-back losses for just the second time this season.

The Timberwolves used a 17-5 run and Gobert’s 10 points and seven rebounds to build a 55-48 lead at halftime. Gobert, who ranks fifth in the league in double-doubles, had a three-point play on a dunk over Portland’s 7-foot-2 center Moses Brown in the third quarter as Minnesota extended its lead to 13 points.

“I just tried to be more patient,” said Gobert, who went 9 for 10 from the floor and 7 for 7 from the line. “The last few games, I felt like I wasn’t being aggressive enough. … Tonight, (I decided) to be aggressive and be more decisive.”

Portland cut its deficit to three points before Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer made it 86-80 with 1:02 left in the third. Alexander-Walker added a transition layup before the third-quarter buzzer.

Edwards scored all but four of his points in the fourth quarter. Gobert recorded a block and Conley followed with a 3-pointer that extended Minnesota’s lead to 115-101 with 1:22 remaining.

“Rudy was super locked in today,” Conley said. “Super efficient, super dominant — that’s what we need out of him.”

The Trail Blazers were without Scoot Henderson, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon, Shaedon Sharpe, Robert Williams III and Mattise Thybulle on Monday night.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Open a six-game homestand against Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Timberwolves: Start a six-game trip — their longest of the season — at Indiana on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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