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Butler scores 24 points, Timberwolves beat Blazers 120-103

From FOX Sports - January 14, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (AP)As Jamal Crawford talked about how the Minnesota Timberwolves must continue improving, next-locker neighbor Jimmy Butler couldnt help himself.

Blah, blah, blah, Butler playfully jabbed while Crawford spoke with reporters after the Timberwolves 120-103 victory over Portland on Sunday night.

The Wolves know they need to keep their second 5-0 homestand in franchise history in perspective.

Butler scored 24 points, Jeff Teague added 22 and Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 11 rebounds for his NBA-leading 37th double-double of the season. The Wolves had their first 5-0 homestand since 2001, winning each game by double figures against the likes of New Orleans, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and New York.

But coach Tom Thibodeau cautioned against reading too much into the wins, which havent come easy or often in Minnesota for the last 14 seasons.

Its important to win everywhere, and `are we building the right habits? Thibodeau said. You want to make sure that youre thinking about that improvement each and every day so that you can be playing your best at the end.

Crawford echoed those thoughts.

We know weve come a long ways, but we have some more levels we can go to, he said. Its good to keep building good habits.

They led by as many as 26 against Portland to send the Trail Blazers to their third loss in a row.

Damian Lillard scored 21 points, and C.J. McCollum and Pat Connaughton each had 18 for Portland. The Blazers had scored 110 points or more in seven straight game.

That streak was in jeopardy early thanks to the Blazers paltry 10-point second quarter and 18 total turnovers.

Our offense really hit the skids, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. We didnt shoot it well, we didnt pass it well, we turned the ball over. Minnesota took advantage of it, so it was a big hole.

Portland led by five early and ended the first quarter up 33-31. But the Blazers went cold in the second, shooting only 2 for 15 and scoring more points off six free throws in the quarter. The Wolves, meanwhile, put together a 14-0 run and steadily pulled away.

Weve got to put our hats on defense, Crawford said. Offense will come and go, but defense is what can takes us there.

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