Blazers defense needs work

Timberwolves have Love back in lineup to face Portland

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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The Portland Trail Blazers saw their three-game winning streak end on Wednesday night with a 114-87 loss at Phoenix.

Now, the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-5) minus Brandon Roy, are visiting Portland to face the Blazers (5-6).

Entering tonight's game at the Rose Garden, here are a few things to ponder:

By the Numbers

30: Where the Portland Trail Blazers rank in defensive field-goal percentage — 30th out of 30 NBA teams. On Wednesday, Portland's cellar-dweller defense got worked over in Phoenix in the 114-87 loss. Since the start of training camp, more than anything else, defense has been emphasized. Although assistant Kaleb Canales owns the label as "defensive coordinator" on the staff, both he and head coach Terry Stotts collaborate for the responsibility. Nevertheless, the importance placed on defense and the coaching teamwork have not made much of a difference. Blazer opponents still average 50.1 percent from the field.

34 & 14: Wouldn't it be nice if he was healthy, then Minnesota wouldn't have to wait so long — but wait, we interrupt this horribly-crafted remix of the Beach Boys' classic to report on Kevin Love's surprise return to the Timberwolves' lineup. Love — a Lake Oswego, Ore., native and nephew of Beach Boy Mike Love — was supposed to miss six to eight weeks with a broken right hand but returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday, just four weeks after his injury. Love wore a protective glove and although he hadn't even practiced with his teammates, he scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Wolves' 101-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

12-1: The Rose Garden home record that the Blazers have against Minnesota over the last 13 games.

22: The total number of Blazer turnovers on Wednesday and a new season high. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard led the way with six giveaways and has 39 for the season, tied at ninth (Stephen Curry and Dwight Howard) in the league.

373: Nicolas Batum's career 3-point field goals made. After making one on Wednesday, Batum moved to seventh place on the team's all-time list, tying Rudy Fernandez and Rasheed Wallace. Batum will need 400 more to match Terry Porter, the franchise leader in 3-pointers made with 773.

4: The number of season-low marks that the team produced on Wednesday — just more proof that the Phoenix trip was a rather forgettable one for the Blazers. The season lows came in points scored (87), defensive rebounds (19), 3-pointers attempted (19) and 3-pointers made (5).

1: On Friday night, both the Blazers and Wolves will be searching for their first wins in the Northwest Division.

Candace Buckner can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email candace.buckner@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter @blazerbanter.