The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (32 points, 5 assists in 29 minutes), Thomas Robinson (14 points, career-high 18 rebounds, 2 huge blocks), and Nicolas Batum (22 points and 10 rebounds), with support from Wesley Matthews (17 points). But if any win was a team win, it's this one; nearly every Blazer made a contribution in the second half.
First Half: Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. The only description for the Blazers' performance for most of the half. They looked discombobulated at both ends of the court, giving up easy three's to the Wolves, and if the three missed, would also give up the offensive rebound. Along the way, the Wolves were hitting shots that they normally missed. Meanwhile:
Blazers are a mess on both ends right now. Stotts having to yell instructions to players on where to be on that last possession.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) February 24, 2014
Put it all together, and the Wolves took an 18 point lead in the second quarter, while Lillard (the only reliable scorer for the Blazers) headed to the bench with his third touch foul. Somehow, the Blazers made a run though, and outscored the Wolves by 10 down the stretch to somehow pull within 8 points at halftime.
Minnesota 60, Portland 52
Hangin' tough [with this game]. Mostly because I do not want to watch Nancy / Tonya.
Third Quarter: Portland finally went on a run to close within one point on a Lillard three-pointer, but Minnesota took control again, building a six point lead. Portland turned the tide again though, and when Lillard hit another three, the game was finally tied and Minnesota called timeout. A lucky bounce for a Batum three-pointer gave the Blazers the first lead since early, but the Wolves fought back for a 4 point lead. Portland had their chances, but handed the ball back with turnover after turnover. Another Batum three gave Blazers back the lead, and they held onto it during a bonkers back-and-forth sequence where neither team could take advantage of fast breaks.
Portland 84, Minnesota 80
We're about to loose this one you can just tell unless Minnesota just hands it to us.
Plus or minus Batum scores 14? I say minus lol
Fourth Quarter: Say hello to Thomas Robinson. In a game where he'd been doing dirty work all night, he took control at both ends and the Blazers jumped to an 8 point lead on a Victor Claver dunk on the break. The red-hot JJ Barea hit another three to close the gap, but Portland, the team and crowd, came alive. With Lillard back on the bench, the Blazers had one of those indelible moments in a season like this: Robinson erases a sure fast-break dunk for Corey Brewer, leading to an alley-oop Barton dunk on the break at the other end:
At this point, the whole stadium (and Gameday Thread) is bananas. Robinson hit a huge three-point play on a tip-in for a 9 point lead, then after another Blazer defensive stand, Claver saved a broken play, to Matthews for an open three... Swish. The crowd was on their feet, and Minnesota called timeout, down 12. Batum returns and promptly hit a layup for a 14 point lead at the halfway point.
I've basically been over here going OMG OMG OMG OMG for the last 15 minutes straight.— Timmay @ Blazersedge (@BedgeTimmay) February 24, 2014
Minnesota settled down, and scored 4 straight points to cut the lead to 10, and Blazers Coach Terry Stotts quickly called timeout. The Blazers were re-energized, and looking to break on every opportunity. And thanks to their defense, the opportunities were presenting themselves. And at this point, Minnesota decided to slack off of Lillard behind the three-point line. He wrote a note to their parents in the form of a long three. Swish. After a timeout, Wolves Coach Rick Adelman pulled Kevin Love for the final four minutes.
Another day of rest for the Blazers, which they'll need as they head to the Mile High City to play the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more from Dave and Ben tonight.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night:
Thanks to everyone who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread! As always, here are the most popular comments, based on the number of Rec's from their fellow fans: