The Short Version
A career night for Wesley Matthews leads the Portland Trail Blazers to their 20th win, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 108-98. Despite the score, the game was neither that close nor that exciting.
The Long Version
The first quarter began as you'd expect, with a quick Blazer lead. Minnesota kept it close, but suddenly Wesley Matthews said "My turn!" Andre hits a jumper. Wesley for three. Wesley for three. Wesley for three again! Suddenly it's an 11-0 run, and the Wolves need a timeout. By the time the quarter was over, Wesley Matthews had 19 points, including 5-5 from three. Score: 37-27. Against most teams, this is a good first quarter. But despite playing a clearly over-matched Minnesota team, Portland's defense was could not stop them from scoring.
Both teams played to a standstill for the first half of the second quarter. Portland matched Minnesota, sloppy-for-sloppy. But Portland slowly built the lead, with help from the masterful Wesley Matthews. The lead reached 24 at its peak, but was 20 at halftime. Wesley Matthews after the first half: 29 points, 7-8 from three. So to recap, it's a 20 point lead, and Wesley scored 29 points. He personally built the Blazer lead, both visually and in the box score.
To open the second half, Portland continued their defensive effort from the first half, and Minnesota took advantage. Well, a little. In the definition of "nondescript quarter", Portland's lead shrunk to 16 points. The biggest news was the quiet play of Matthews, for whom Corey Brewer made it his personal mission to shut down. Though it may have also been the plan for Wesley to feel a bit bruised, as Brewer was attached to Wesley by the hip, almost literally. Corey would eventually foul out, probably with a feeling of a job well done.
In the fourth quarter, Minnesota did everything they could to cut into the Blazers lead and make it a ball game. But LaMarcus Aldridge came alive to help dash their hopes. The Wolves started hitting some threes, and kept chipping at the lead slowly. Eventually, Portland let Minnesota cut the lead to 9 points. But by that point, there was just over a minute left in the game. Add in some free throws and a minor skirmish, and it was over.
Wesley Matthews ended with a career-high 36 points on 7-10 three point shooting. While Minnesota focused on him, he only scored 3 more points before garbage time free throws. However, that let another Blazer take over...
While everyone was distracted by Wesley in the second half, LaMarcus Aldridge quietly took control. 28 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists. With a few tip-ins, dunks, and fadeaways, he dashed any Minnesota hopes of a serious second half comeback.
Andre Miller was the third part of the "Big Three" tonight, finishing a solid game with 16 points and 10 assists, and one technical foul on a late skirmish.
Quiet nights for Batum and Camby. Nic shot 4-15 for 9 points and 9 boards, and Marcus with 6 and 6.
Patty Mills had a few nice plays tonight and ended with 10 points. This was a night where the Blazers clicked when Andre Miller was in the game, so he ended up with the majority of the PG minutes.
Joel and Dante had quiet stints off the bench, and Rudy hit a three before leaving with gastrointestinal distress.
On the Timberwolves side, Kevin Love ended with a fairly quiet 30 and 19, with the rest of the scoring spread out. Former Blazer Martell Webster, clearly not at full strength, tallying 11 points.
Watching this game live, it looked like the key to this win was three point shooting. And it was indeed the key to the big lead after the first half. But by the end of the game, Minnesota had made only one less three, and shot a higher FG percentage overall. The key was rebounding. Portland out-rebounded Minnesota, 45-36, including 6 more offensive boards. Between those offensive boards and the three fewer turnovers for the Blazers, they got 10 more FG attempts than the Wolves. This helped keep the game from being in doubt.
A plane flight and two nights sleep in their own beds. After that, a fairly unknown and unheralded team from Miami visit the Rose Garden Sunday night. The Heat, I think. Are they supposed to be good or something?
Let them know it'll eventually get better, over at Canis Hoopus.
No Jersey Contest tonight! It'll return Sunday, watch for a link in Dave's preview tomorrow night.