Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Trail Blazers (literally) tried to hand the game to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the Wolves' last second shot came up short.
The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists), Damian Lillard (21 points, 6 assists), and the returning Wesley Matthews (22 points, 5 assists). Ten Blazers scored tonight, with the bench contributing 20 points to the cause.
First Quarter: Good start for the Blazers. Aldridge felt good, Lillard played well, Matthews returned to make three 3-pointers, and all was good. Well, except for those 7 turnovers in one quarter. However, Minnesota couldn't take advantage. Shot after shot bounced off the rim, and the Blazers took a 7 point lead by the end of the quarter.
Aldridge on pace for 36 points and 28 rebounds after 1 quarter. I'll take it.
Second Quarter: A few more nice shots and the lead reached 11. Unfortunately, the turnovers continued too. The lead was quickly back down to 5. The Blazer bench held their own from there, keeping the lead in a similar range, while the Wolves missed nearly every shot, even the open ones. A relaxed Nolan Smith had another nice stretch, helping the Blazer lead reach double-figures before the starters returned. Minnesota held tight, only down 11 at halftime.
Nolan Smith just made Ricky Rubio look like Nolan Smith!
Third Quarter: The Blazers were handed multiple chances to push the lead, but gave up the ball over and over. Eventually, it came back to bite them, as the lead fell to 5 at the six minute mark. Then 3. Then boom. Lillard took over the game, pushing the lead from 3 to 10 in just one minute. The run reached 15-2, giving Portland a 16 point lead. Minnesota missed a shot to close the quarter, but inexplicably fouled Smith on the rebound, under their own hoop, with under 1 second left. Nolan hit the free throws, giving him 5 points in just over 10 seconds to close the quarter, and giving the Blazers a 19 point lead (!) at the end of the third.
Respect. Nolan a threat from anywhere.
Fourth Quarter: More turnovers helped Minnesota score 5 straight points to start the fourth. The Blazers settled down a bit, holding the Wolves at bay for the first six minutes. But Minnesota made their run, getting multiple easy buckets to cut the lead to 11. Aldridge returned to help, but former Blazer Dante Cunningham sparked the Wolves, forcing the Blazers to call timeout when the lead reached single digits with 3 minutes left. Out of the timeout, they turned it over for the 25th time, leading to a Dante dunk. Immediately after, an offensive foul was the 26th turnover. A lucky bounce for a layup made the lead 5. Lillard stopped the bleeding with a floater but free throws brought the lead back to 5. After finally stopping Minnesota, the Blazers turned it over for the 27th time. Another easy layup made the lead 3 with less than a minute left.
Needing a bucket, the Blazers turned it over for the 28th time (Lillard "fell down" near halfcourt), giving another free layup for Minnesota. The Blazers now only led by 1 with 36 seconds left. Aldridge attempted a jumper.. and swished it. But at the other end, the Blazers gave up another easy layup. Luke Babbitt was fouled with 21 seconds left. He made one of two. With a chance to tie or win, Aldridge blocked Rubio, and was fouled on the rebound. He missed both free throws.
Minnesota, down by 2, had the ball with 6 seconds left and a chance to tie or win. Dante had an open jumper for the tie... and missed. The Blazer took a deep breath and headed for the locker room.
Hahahah we "won". WE ARE THE MOST ANNOYING TEAM IN THE WORLD.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim