MINNEAPOLIS -- Terrell Brandon was awfully close to perfect, and Damon Stoudamire was perfectly awful.
Brandon scored 28 points in his best playoff performance and shut down his boyhood pal from Portland as the Minnesota Timberwolves staved off elimination with a 94-87 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday.
''No matter who wins, our neighborhood wins,'' Brandon said after the Wolves pulled to 2-1 in the best-of-five series. ''This is something we'll talk about for years after the season is done.''
Maybe Brandon will, but Stoudamire, who scored just two points would just as soon forget his worst career performance, postseason or otherwise.
''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.''
Game 4 is Tuesday night at Target Center, and Kevin Garnett said the Wolves are counting on a repeat performance.
''We have no choice but to do this again,'' he said.
Otherwise, the Wolves will be rendered first-round fodder for the fourth straight season.
''Now we have a series,'' Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. ''Now each team has taken care of its home court and we need to do it one more time.''
While Stoudamire was 0-for-8 from the field with one rebound and as many assists (six) as fouls, Brandon came within three rebounds of joining Garnett with a triple-double.
He was 10-of-16 from the field, 6-of-6 from the line and had just one turnover while playing every second of the intense game.
''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.''
Scottie Pippen, who scored just 16 points after getting 28 and 21 in Portland, said what Brandon did shouldn't surprise anyone.
''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 K.G. on your team, either.''
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.
''We've been in both games before this,'' Garnett said of the Wolves' 3- and 4-point losses at Portland last week. ''It does a lot for our confidence. This was a must-win and we came in and won.''
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 fullcourt and that takes more energy.''
But Brandon never backed down.
''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-around playoff performances recorded by a point guard.
Only four teams have overcome 2-0 deficits since 1984, when the league adopted the best-of-five format for the first round of the playoffs.
Playing just their second home game in three weeks, the Wolves did what they couldn't do in Portland: stifle Pippen and execute down the stretch.
Steve Smith scored 22 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 Blazers never had a better chance to catch up. 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 and 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.
The 10th sellout crowd of the season provided a much-needed boost for the Wolves, who hadn't played but one home game since April 10.
''This crowd is bananas,'' Garnett said. ''It's like a fruit basket -- bananas, coconuts, couple of sour grapes. This crowd has always been something special.
''I wish you could all be me and feel it.''
Notes: The Wolves immediately began selling the 4,000 available tickets for Tuesday night's game. ... The teams combined for just 13 turnovers, tying an NBA playoff record set by Detroit and Boston on May 9, 1991. ... Minnesota established new playoff highs in field goal accuracy (53.5 percent) and three-point accuracy (60 percent).
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