Blazers notebook: Smart decisions lead to fewer turnovers

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers have been a successful team this year because of their chemistry, deadly shooting and ability to win when the game is close.

One thing that's been even more impressive by the Blazers is their ability to move the ball without turning the ball over.

Even a team that prides itself on teamwork and execution like the San Antonio Spurs ranks in the middle of the road in turnover percentage.

The Blazers are second in the league when it comes to not turning the ball over and coach Terry Stotts attributes that to his team's smart decision making as well as the fact that it's a necessity for them.

"I don't know. I'd like to think that we make good decisions," Stotts said. "That we set good screens that we execute. I think it's a combination of a lot of things. We don't create a lot of turnovers. We still have a negative turnover differential. So it's important that we don't turn the ball over."

Portland's defense ranks last in the league in turnovers forced adjusted to pace.

Spanish reunion

This season hasn't been going exactly to plan for Portland forward Victor Claver. He's only played in three games and has been on the inactive list for much of the season.

However, while Claver has kept his head up and is enjoying the success of the Blazers, he was able to enjoy a little piece of home with his friend and Spanish National Team teammate Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Claver said that since the Blazers leave after Saturday's game for a game in Golden State on Sunday that they had to meet quicker than usual.

The two met up at Claver's home where his sister made a traditional Iberian arroz con pollo for the three to have a taste of home.

Claver even joked that with the sunshine in the area that he felt like he was back home in sunny Valencia.

Lillard's success against Minnesota

Coming into Saturday's game, Damian Lillard's second-highest scoring average against a particular team was against the Timberwolves.

Over the five games he's played in his career against Minnesota he's averaging 25.8 points per game and he scored 36 in the previous match-up against these teams.

"When we played him in Minnesota he was hitting 50 footers," said Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman. "You've got to pick him up earlier. That's one thing we didn't do. For whatever reason against us he's shot the ball really well.

Change of fortunes

Coming into last night's game in Golden State, the Minnesota Timberwolves were 0-11 in games decided by four points or less.

For Adelman it was just that for once the ball didn't go in for the other team.

"It's been a while," Adelman said about his feelings on winning a close one. "The guy misses the shot and hit the rim and that's the first time all year that's happened for us."