The Blazers were led by another monster night from Damian Lillard, who finished with 36 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. LaMarcus Aldridge (15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists), Wesley Matthews (16 points, 5 rebounds) and Nicolas Batum (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) were also factors..
This is one of those games where you can just dismiss it and move on. The Timberwolves were at home, rested, and extra-hungry after a loss to the Celtics. The Blazers looked slow most of the night, despite an adrenaline-fueled third quarter comeback attempt. The fact they cut this lead to single digits down the stretch is a testament to their heart and effort this season.
First Quarter: The Blazers continued to look tired at the defense end, with the Wolves hitting easy inside buckets repeatedly. In fact, it was literally how they scored all their points for most of the quarter. Portland's shots were primarily coming up short, and some of the quarter looked like a comedy of errors. The Blazers were regularly slow getting back down court, and the Wolves enjoyed the benefits. The Blazers were lucky to be within single digits.
Minnesota 31, Portland 22
Tired legs are showing. Too many shots are coming up short.
by Blazing Chargers
Second Quarter: The quarter opened with a Blazer turnover, followed by a Wolves offensive rebound and three-point play. The Blazers responded with a back-court turnover for a Minnesota dunk. It wasn't pretty. More turnovers and misses, and at the other end, more easy points for Minnesota, who took an easy 19 point lead. Then 21. Then 23. The Blazers seemed to have rubber legs, and Minnesota was clearly fresh. It was simply one of those nights. Out of the timeout, the Blazers missed more easy shots. The lead was soon 28, with the Blazers outscored 23-6 in the quarter. Lillard finally got to the line. And missed both free throws fairly badly. The Wolves missed a layup on a 1-on-4 fast break, and another player ran around all four Blazers for a rebound and layup. The score was 60-30 halfway through the quarter. Nicola Pekovic out-rebounded 4 Blazers for a tip-in. Twice.
Minnesota 69, Portland 43
4 games in 5 nights on the road, against a good home team with a day of rest. Guys look just tired in general. I’m not too upset, it’s the NBA, games like this happen.
by Darn you, darn you to heck!
Third Quarter: Here comes the Blazer comeback! The game turned quickly, as a few three-pointers fell for Portland, and (in a popular phenomenon) the calls nearly all sided with the team losing in a blowout. By the 4 minute mark, the former 32 point Minnesota lead was down to 12 after a Lillard three. And out of a timeout, Lillard and Freeland cut it to 10! But it's hard to complete a comeback that big, and the Wolves settled down and pushed the lead back up. Mo Williams missed a layup, Aldridge missed a baby hook, and Minnesota took advantage with back to back to back three-pointers. With 12 straight points, the Wolves gave themselves some buffer.
Minnesota 98, Portland 78
Fourth Quarter: Kevin Love hit a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter, and the Blazers were out of adrenaline, and serious comeback attempts. Lillard continue to hit three's to keep within sight of the Wolves, cutting the lead all the way to 5 in the final minute, but it was too little, too late. The frustrated team can finally head home after an exhausting 3-1 road trip.
Two full days off and a home game. The Blazers play the Pelicans Saturday night. Stay tuned for Dave's analysis later tonight, though. -- Tim