MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Minnesota Timberwolves suffered their first loss in the home opener on Monday and will try to move past that quickly when they host the Miami Heat on Thursday. The Timberwolves paid tribute to former coach Flip Saunders, who died of cancer on the eve of the regular season, prior to the opener.
Minnesota nearly came from behind to pull out a win in the emotional contest but ultimately fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 106-101. Rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns was involved in a controversial play on a jump ball at the end and had a call go against him, putting a cap on his first rough game in the NBA. Towns will get another tough test from Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who totaled 48 points and 29 rebounds in the last two games.
“I’m just trying to impact that game,” Whiteside told reporters. “If it’s not points and rebounds, it’s blocks. I try to affect the game in something, and try to help us win games.”
THE HEAT (2-2)
Whiteside got off to a slow start with totals of 15 points and 15 rebounds in the first two games but has exploded over the last two contests. The 26-year-old is 23-of-27 from the field in those two games but could not get enough help to pull Miami away from a 98-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Dwyane Wade did his part with 21 points before leaving with migraines and has scored at least 20 in all four games.
THE TIMBERWOLVES (2-1)
Towns recorded a double-double in each of his first two games but was held to 11 points and five boards while battling foul trouble on Monday. The No. 1 overall pick managed to sneak four blocked shots into his 27 minutes and has eight in the last two games, helping the team overcome the loss of center Nikola Pekovic (Achilles). Towns and Andrew Wiggins form one of the most promising young duos in the NBA, though Wiggins is shooting 30 percent from the field in the early going.
1. The home team took each of the two meetings last season, with the Timberwolves squeezing out a 102-101 win on Feb. 4
2. Miami PG Goran Dragic had two assists and four turnovers in Tuesday’s loss.
3. Minnesota G Kevin Martin (20.3) is leading the team in scoring while coming off the bench.
PREDICTION: Heat 99, Timberwolves 94
(© Copyright 2015 Sports Direct Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)