Webster shows new life and the Blazers follow

PORTLAND — Portland Trail Blazers guard Martell Webster showed off renewed confidence and new life.

Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla pounded away.

And Portland played through another mid-game letdown before eventually dominating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-78, Saturday evening at the Rose Garden before a sold-out crowd of 20,453.

Webster, who rejoined the Blazers’ starting lineup, recorded game- and season-highs in points (21) and rebounds (13). He also knocked down 4 of his 7 3-point attempts.

Webster struggled through a nine-game slump in which he averaged just 5.0 points while coming off the bench.

Saturday, Webster reclaimed his place in Portland’s premier unit. And the high-flying Seattle native looked like a new man.

“I got to thank my teammates,” Webster said. “They stayed confident in me and kept the faith in me. And I finally got one.”

Brandon Roy added 18 points for Portland. Oden poured in 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, collected five rebounds and recorded three blocks.

Portland (10-5) rallied from a 51-49 third-quarter deficit to pick up its eighth victory in its last 10 games. The Blazers outscored Minnesota 55-29 in the game’s final 16 minutes.

Portland coach Nate McMillan said his team responded with pride and determination after suffering through a humiliating 108-94 road defeat Friday to the Golden State Warriors.

“We came back after losing that game last night and did a much better job taking care of the ball,” McMillan said.

The Blazers recorded 28 assists and committed just nine turnovers, after giving the ball up 23 teams against the Warriors.

Six Blazers hit double figures in scoring, while Portland knocked down 41.7 percent (10 of 24) of its 3-point attempts and shot 50 percent (39 of 78) overall from the field.

“It’s been a while since we’ve seen guys make shots,” McMillan said.

He added: “We’re very capable of knocking those shots down, and we just have to keep taking them.”

After hinting before the start of Saturday’s contest that a significant lineup change was on the horizon, McMillan’s second major coaching move in a little more than two weeks again paid dividends.

As Webster rejoined the starting lineup, veteran point guard Andre Miller began the game on the bench. Thus, Portland’s premier unit — Steve Blake, Roy, Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden — was the same the Blazers began the season with.

Roy said he supported the change; Miller said he was fine with the move as long as Portland keeps winning games.

“I just wanted to get back to that lineup and get Martell in the game and get us a balance,” said McMillan, who added that he plans to stick with the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Portland held Minnesota to 37.7 percent (29 of 77) shooting from the field, and the Timberwolves scored 15 points or less in the first and fourth quarters.

Al Jefferson scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to top the Timberwolves (1-12), who hold the second-worst record in the NBA.

“We’re not secure as a team,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “We’re not together as a team.”

The Blazers took a 17-6 lead following a made 3-pointer by Blake from the right baseline.

Blake’s shot was set up by quick perimeter passing, in which the ball was sent from the left wing to the right corner in a few seconds. And the series captured a reconfigured, streamlined Portland first unit that ran offensive sets through to their completion and prized finding the open man over quick-trigger jump shots.

“As a point guard, that’s what you love,” Blake said. “To be able to throw the ball to any guy anywhere on the floor and they’re able to make the play. So, I’m definitely lucky to have that.”

However, Portland’s offense stagnated in the second quarter. The Blazers recorded just 17 points and shot 6 of 20 from the field.

The Timberwolves took a 45-44 lead when Ryan Hollins converted a tough shot inside the paint with 9 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter.

But consecutive 3s by Webster gave the Blazers a 55-51 advantage midway through the period.

And a unit led by Rudy Fernandez, Blake and Roy propelled Portland on a 24-10 run to close out the quarter.

“We did take a step in the right direction,” Blake said. “Guys played their role really well and I think we had a good flow to our offense.”

Portland hosts the Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m. Monday.

Blazers rookie forward Dante Cunningham took the floor with 3:33 left in the third quarter. Cunningham finished with four points and played more than 8 minutes. … Portland’s 10-5 start is the franchise’s best since 2000-01. … Przybilla scored a season-high 14 points and earned his first double-double of the year by adding 11 rebounds. … The Blazers’ 66 second-half points were the most they have scored in any half this season.

Best Blazer: Martell Webster recorded his first career double-double with a season-high 21 points and career-high 13 rebounds.
Big numbers: Portland scored 66 second-half points, the most the Blazers have recorded in any half this season.

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