We saw this a lot tonight. It never ended well.
The Portland Trail Blazers' slide continues, falling behind early and eventually collapsing late against the Minnesota Timberwolves. With the loss, the Blazers fall not only below .500, but behind the Wolves in the chase for the playoffs. (Cue the "PLAYOFFS?!" quote here). Marcus Camby left the game early with a cut and a strained neck as he dove to the court.
The game started with missed jumpers from Aldridge and Love. Rubio wasted no time, taking advantage of a double-team for a nice pass and dunk. Wallace used his size advantage early, but Minnesota picked apart the Blazer D for multiple three-pointers and a 10-3 lead. Nate took his first timeout with 8:48 left in the first, as the fans looked more interested in the phones (and Rubio) than the Blazers. Portland fell behind 15-5 as they changed their direction on offense, focusing on Nic and LaMarcus. But as Camby left the game with a small cut, enter the secret weapon: Joel Przybilla. Within seconds of entering, he’d drawn a charge and tipped in a miss, cutting the lead to 5. However, the Blazers thought their best defensive strategy was leaving Love open for three. Then Martell. It worked out as you’d expect. After four straight three-pointers, it was a 31-17 lead. And at 3:36 left, Nate needed another timeout. Wesley gets his name called, and responds with a nice run, but the three’s kept raining down from Minnesota. And the dunks. Did I forget to mention the dunks? After one, the Wolves led, 40-28.
I don’t know what Nate said between quarters, but he apparently said it loudly, because the Blazers ramped up the D in the second quarter. And I mean immediately, they stole the inbound pass to start the quarter. In just one minute, 4 consecutive steals brought the score to 40-36. Suddenly those easy dunks and three’s eluded the Rubio-less Wolves, and the Blazers finally looked like they cared. Despite a timeout, Portland stepped on the gas. More steals led to a consecutive Nicolas Batum threes, to finally take a 52-49 lead. However, Minnesota wouldn’t go away. Love nailed a three just before halftime, and the Wolves headed to the locker room with a 61-60 lead.
As the third quarter started, the Blazers started to get Aldridge involved. But while his shots bounced out, Minnesota took a 7 point lead. Scrambling for offense, the Blazers looked to an energetic Batum and Wallace, who helped keep the Blazers close. But when Love hit another open three-pointer, Nate took a timeout while behind, 81-73. But a few late three’s (including one from a just-arrived Elliot Williams) cut the lead to 2 after three.
The Blazers tied the game to start the fourth, only to fall behind by 4 within 90 seconds, and 9 after three minutes. Repeated offensive miscues (against improved Wolves D) and multiple breakdowns on defense. Nate immediately tried to get Aldridge involved, but the Minnesota double-team prevented his presence. Meanwhile, the Wolves couldn’t miss, building a 13 point lead as the crowd groaned. With less than 5 minutes left, a struggling Aldridge fouls out while giving up a three-point play to Love, as the fans wonder what happened to the team they saw at the start of the season. Webster and Love finished the Blazers off, while the fans were bored enough to chant for novelty mexican food in boredom.