The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points, 9 rebounds), CJ McCollum (a breakout night with 19 points, 3 assists, 2 steals), Nicolas Batum (15 points), Damian Lillard (15 points) and Joel Freeland (11 points, 5 rebounds). Minnesota was missing Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and Kevin Love due to injuries, but Ricky Rubio scored a career-high 25 points in their absence.
Both Aldridge and Lillard took hits in the game, with Aldridge missing the last two minutes, and Lillard gingerly leaving the court. If there are any updates to their status, we'll post them.
First Half: Just an awful, forgettable first half. Damian Lillard was thrust into foul trouble every time he stepped on the court, and with Mo Williams out, this left both teams playing with makeshift, unfamiliar lineups through most of the first half. Portland pulled ahead by 10 points, but as Earl Watson joined the foul trouble, Portland's lineup struggled to stay ahead. The Wolves played well against Portland's usual mixed-bag defense, and were close at halftime.
Portland 55, Minnesota 54
3rd quarter thumping coming up!!
Third Quarter: No third quarter thumping tonight, as the teams played a back and forth quarter, neither gaining an advantage, until a terrible, terrible goaltending call (clearly wrong on replay), followed by a terrible, terrible clear-path foul call, all by Blazer fans' favorite referee, Scott Foster. The Blazers found themselves down 5, and needed to consider actually putting in 100% effort if they had any interest in winning. But a Ricky Rubio three-pointer made the lead 7. The Blazers made a frenetic late run (including the foul-plagued Lillard's first bucket) to tie it heading to the fourth.
Portland 83, Minnesota 83
I love how CJ and Freeland step up when the starters are playing poorly
Fourth Quarter: Yet again, Portland couldn't get anything started to open the fourth, and Minnesota regained the lead while missing most of their own shots. After four minutes, each team had only scored 4 points and the score was tied. The starters returned (with CJ replacing Nic) and two minutes later, Portland led by 9. Minn's shots kept missing, and Portland spread the offense for a few good looks. With 5 minutes left, the lead was 10. However, Minnesota made their run, with 5 quick points to cut the lead in half. But Lillard responded with a three pointer, but Portland gave up a three-point play at the other end with 3:30 left. With three minutes left, Matthews responded with a step-back three-pointer. Two consecutive Blazer steals slowed down the Wolves, and suddenly Portland took a 12 point lead with less than 90 seconds left. Minnesota attempted a late comeback, and Portland again looked allergic to winning (Batum literally inbounded it to the Wolves), but escaped with a frustrating victory anyway.
The Blazers head home and get two days off before two big games, against Oklahoma City and in LA against the Clippers. Then it's finally the All-Star (All-Lillard?) break.
Say tuned tonight for more analysis from Dave.
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: