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Survival instinct

Timberwolves live to play another day

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Posted: Sunday April 30, 2000 09:49 PM

  Scottie Pippen and the Trail Blazers didn't have enough down the stretch to complete the series sweep of Minnesota. AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The only smudge on Terrell Brandon's career day was that it came at the expense of his hometown pal from Portland.

Brandon scored 28 points in his best playoff performance ever and shut down Damon Stoudamire as the Minnesota Timberwolves staved off elimination with a 94-87 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Brandon, who added 12 assists and seven rebounds, helped hold Stoudamire to two free throws, 14 points below his playoff average.

"No matter who wins, our neighborhood wins," Brandon said after the T'wolves pulled within 2-1 in the best-of-five series. "This is something we'll talk about for years after the season is done."

Stoudamire would just as soon forget about his dismal day. He was 0-for-8 from the field with one rebound and had as many assists (six) as fouls.

"To sum it all up, I stunk up the place," Stoudamire said. "By all rights, they should have thrown me out of here. But I'll tell you what, I won't stink it up again."

Brandon was 10-of-16 from the field, 6-of-6 from the line and had just one turnover while not getting so much as a single breather from coach Flip Saunders.

"I didn't play tough because this was Portland," Brandon said. "This was do or die. I'll take another 48 if that's what Flip and the team needs me to do."

Blazers at T'wolves
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Terrell Brandon breezes past Damon Stoudamire for the game-clinching shot.
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Brandon not only handled Stoudamire, who is three years younger, but also his feisty backup, Greg Anthony, who logged 20 minutes.

"It takes a lot of energy to have to guard Damon, because he's faster than me," Brandon said. "Then, Greg comes in and guards me full-court, and that takes more energy."

Brandon was up to the task.

"He played an excellent game," Stoudamire said. "I said at the beginning of the series, if he played good for them, they'd win this series."

That's still a long shot, even if Brandon can reproduce one of the finest all-round playoff performances ever recorded by a point guard.

Only four teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit since 1984, when the league adopted the best-of-five format for the first round of the playoffs.

Game 4 is Tuesday night at Target Center, and Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said he isn't about to juggle his lineup.

Blazers forward Scottie Pippen said nothing went wrong for Brandon.

"He's one of the top point guards. They're very patient offensively, and he's a great leader," Pippen said. "It doesn't hurt to have KG on your team, either."

Kevin Garnett, who has just two triple-doubles in five NBA seasons, had his second triple-double in a week with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the T'wolves.

 
Protecting Their Own
Lowest turnover totals in NBA playoff history
Teams  Date  Turnovers 
Portland (6) vs. Minnesota (7)  4/30/00  13 
Detroit (4) vs. Boston (9)  5/9/91  13 
Boston (5) vs. Detroit (9)  5/13/91  14 
Houston (5) vs. LA Lakers (9)  4/30/96  14 
New York (5) vs. Cleveland (10)  4/25/96  15 
 

Playing just their second home game in three weeks, the T'wolves did what they couldn't do in Portland: stifle Pippen (16 points), execute down the stretch and curb their mistakes.

"We wish we could go out and play again right now," Pippen said. "We know we didn't play well. We shot ourselves in the foot today."

The teams combined for just 13 turnovers, tying an NBA playoff record.

Steve Smith scored 22 points for the Blazers, who hit their first 17 free throws. When they finally missed, Brian Grant got his own rebound with a chance for Portland to cut its 80-77 deficit.

But Grant committed an offensive foul with just under five minutes left, and the T'wolves never relinquished their lead.

Joe Smith made two free throws and Anthony Peeler (13 points) stole the ball and scored on the break for an 84-77 lead.

Arvydas Sabonis hit a wide-open 3-pointer to cut it to 84-80 with 3:18 left, but the Blazers could get no closer as Brandon hit all six of his free throws in the final 28 seconds.

Sabonis finished with 17 points, and Rasheed Wallace had 15.

Portland trailed by seven at halftime but tied it at 68 heading into the fourth quarter behind 10 points from Pippen and eight from Sabonis, each of whom had a quiet first half.

At times in the first half, Smith, who hyperextended his right knee in Game 2, matched up with Wallace, moving Garnett over to small forward to try to curb Pippen, who had schooled rookie Wally Szczerbiak and veterans Sealy and Peeler for 49 points in the first two games in Portland.

Pippen didn't score any points against Garnett, who took the victory in stride, knowing a 50-win season means little if the T'wolves don't get out of the first round for the first time in their 11-year history.

"We have no choice but to do this again," Garnett said.

Notes: Minnesota had seven turnovers and Portland six. Detroit (four) and Boston (nine) set the mark on May 9, 1991. ... All seven games between the teams this season have been decided by seven points or less and neither team has scored 100 yet. ... One of the loudest cheers came when a fan hit a half-court shot between quarters, giving all ticket-holders a free large pizza. ... Minnesota established new playoff highs in field-goal accuracy (53.5 percent) and three-point accuracy (60 percent).

 
Related information
Stories
Blazers' Pippen admits to playing possum
Blazers hold off T'wolves to take 2-0 series lead
Pippen's season high helps Blazers hold off T'wolves
Hometown heroes square off
Stats
Blazers-T'wolves Game Summary
Multimedia
Timberwolf Kevin Garnett says Minnesota took a one-game-at-a-time approach. (95 K)
Garnett talks about Minnesota's overall play. (242 K)
Trailblazer Scottie Pippen talks about Minnesota making the shots that counted. (218 K)
Pippen says Portland knows it didn't play well. (155 K)
Minnesota head coach Flip Saunders says Minnesota-Portland has now become a series. (154 K)
Portland's Steve Smith gives credit squarely to the Timberwolves. (107 K)
Smith is asked is Minnesota is given enough national respect. (126 K)
Timberwolf Terrell Brandon talks about his defensive play in addition to his 28 points. (142 K)
Brandon is asked about playing all 48 minutes. (230 K)
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