Despite missing five players, including two of their three leading scorers, Minnesota gave the Blazers everything they could handle and more.
Damian Lillard had 23 points and seven rebounds, but it was in vain as the team that gave Philadelphia their first win of the year stunned the Trail Blazers at the Target Center, 90-82 Wednesday night.
Minnesota's gameplan from the start was clear as they double teamed Aldridge every time he touched the ball. Lillard and Nicolas Batum started hot from outside, but the Blazers ended up shooting just 35% for the quarter. Minnesota closed the quarter on a 13-4 run, and led by four after one.
The second quarter was as ugly as any the Blazers have played this season. Portland committed seven turnovers, allowed six offensive rebounds, and the Portland bigs combined to shoot 2-of-10. Only some quality long range shooting by Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Allen Crabbe kept the Blazers in the ball game. Despite the Blazers struggles, Minnesota was not able to hold onto a 13 point lead, leading by eight at the half.
The third quarter was more of the same, with Aldridge finally getting on the board, but shooting 2-of-6 in the period. The team committed eight more turnovers, including a costly dropped pass by Matthews near the end of the quarter which Minnesota converted with an open three by Corey Brewer. The Blazers missed all seven of their three point attempts in the period, and Portland found itself down 15 after three.
The turnovers continued to be an issue into the final period, but the threes started coming. Aldridge and Matthews hit back-to-back threes to cut the Minnesota lead to six. Matthews scored ten in the period. Portland got as close as four, but Andrew Wiggins ended Portland's momentum. With the Blazers within five with a minute remaining, they missed several opportunities at steals and rebounds, but got nothing and were forced to foul Wiggins. Their final real chance at getting back into the game ended when Lillard missed a long three while trying to draw a foul, and Gorgui Dieng hit two free throws to put the game out of reach.
Aldridge finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds, snapping his streak of double-doubles at ten. Matthews had 18, including 4-of-10 from three. Chris Kaman had eight points and four blocks and Allen Crabbe had six off the bench.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT: An inbounds pass from Batum to Lillard for a sweet alley-oop in the first quarter.
Wolves beat Blazers 90-82. 20 offensive rebounds for Minnesota. Blazers also had 20 turnovers.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 11, 2014
Matthews looked down at his box score at the free throw disparity: "That's the game" #Blazers #Timberwolves— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 11, 2014
Stotts said he contemplated going with Robinson again in the 2nd half, but choose Wright #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 11, 2014