PORTLAND — The best way to win, Terry Stotts told his Portland Trail Blazers, was to not let their opponents hang around in games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves found out the hard way.
Damian Lillard scored 24 points, J.J. Hickson added 18 points and 16 rebounds and the Trail Blazers took an early lead and never looked back in a 109-94 win over the Timberwolves on Saturday night.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and eight rebounds for Portland, which had six players score in double-figures. The Blazers were up by 10 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 18, while the Timberwolves never challenged.
That's been a rarity for the Blazers, who have had problems sustaining leads this season.
"Even at shootaround, we were talking about how we can't play down to the level of this team even though they're hurt," Hickson said. "We just wanted to come out and play our game and we did that tonight."
Derrick Williams had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the short-handed Wolves, who have dropped their last five games and 21 of 25. Luke Ridnour added 18 points and six assists, and former Blazer Dante Cunningham had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Blazers entered the game having lost eight of their last nine to fall back in the playoff hunt. Portland is in 10th place in the Western Conference, behind the L.A. Lakers and Houston. The Blazers' only win since Feb. 4 was last Sunday over Boston.
"I really like the demeanor we came out with in this game," Stotts said. "We addressed that, and guys really took it to heart."
Injured Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy returned to the Rose Garden for the first time since coming out of retirement to join Minnesota last summer. Roy was a three-time All-Star and NBA rookie of the year in Portland before deteriorating knees forced him to quit after the 2010-11 season. He is still beloved in Portland, where he was the biggest star since Clyde Drexler.
Sitting on the bench in a dress shirt and tie, Roy received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the big screen during a second quarter timeout. Roy hasn't played since undergoing his seventh knee surgery on Nov. 19, "but I'm still excited to be here and see the fans," he said before the game.
Roy's injury is far from Minnesota's only problem. The Wolves were missing three starters — leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love (broken hand), forward Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain).
"It's hard when you're missing players, especially scorers like Kevin, Pek and Kirilenko," said Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio, who had 12 points and nine assists. "It's something we have to face every night — play the players we have and fight until the end."
The Wolves shot just 39 percent from the field and made just one of 12 3-point attempts.
Bulls 96, Nets 85
At Chicago, Joakim Noah had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Carlos Boozer scored 20 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets.
The Bulls went on a 19-0 run that started in the second quarter and stretched into third, giving them an 18-point lead. They opened March on a winning note after going 5-8 in February, just their second losing month in 21/2; seasons under coach Tom Thibodeau.
Noah followed up the third triple-double of his career with another terrific performance that also included four blocks. He committed five turnovers, but it sure was an impressive follow-up to Thursday's gem, when he had 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks in a win over Philadelphia.
Brook Lopez led Brooklyn with 22 points — 14 in the first quarter — but the Nets fell for the fourth time in five games. Deron Williams cooled off, finishing with 14 after averaging 27 over the previous three games.
Bucks 122, Raptors 114, OT
At Milwaukee, Monta Ellis scored six of his 23 points in overtime and Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings added five apiece in the extra period to spark the Milwaukee Bucks over the Toronto Raptors.
Ilyasova finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Brandon Jennings had a career-high 19 assists, including one in overtime.
Kyle Lowry had a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Alan Anderson scored 21 points off the bench and Amir Johnson added 19 for Toronto, which lost for the fourth consecutive time and fifth in six games since tying a season best with a five-game winning streak.
Toronto was without Rudy Gay, the team's leading scorer at 18 points per game, who was a game-time decision due to back spasms.
76ers 104, Warriors 97
At Philadelphia, Evan Turner had 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Jrue Holiday scored 27, and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Thad Young had 14 points and 16 rebounds and Royal Ivey chipped in with 17 points for the Sixers, who are 51/2; games behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 25 games left.
Stephen Curry scored 30 and Klay Thompson added 29 for the Warriors, who've lost four in a row.