LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 8 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 32 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, but the Portland Trail Blazers could not overcome a 54% shooting night by the Minnesota Timberwolves, 121-113 Saturday night at the Target Center.
Even without the Iron Man, Portland's shooting was fantastic in the first quarter. The Blazers shot 55% from the field, with Aldridge leading the way with eight. Arron Afflalo added five, Nicolas Batum pitched in six, and everything went swimmingly on the offensive side of the ball. Defense was another story as Nikola Pekovic ate the Blazers alive on the defensive glass. The Minnesota center grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone and used them to score nine points. Behind his efforts, Portland only led by one after one.
Batum led the charge in the second quarter with seven points, as the Blazers rolled out an 11-1 run to extend their lead to as far as ten. Gary Neal responded with ten in the quarter for the Timberwolves, the Blazers shooters cooled off near the end of the quarter, and Portland was only able to lead by four at halftime.
The Blazers went cold in the third quarter, hitting just one of their first six shots. On the other end, Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Martin were unable to miss, as they combined to shoot 10-of-14 in the period. Minnesota led by as many as ten, but a team-leading ten points from kept Portland within four after three quarters.
The bench tried to come to the rescue in the fourth quarter. Steve Blake, Dorell Wright, and Chris Kaman scored eight points to keep Portland close, but they were countered single-handedly by Neal, who scored 11 straight points. A layup by Aldridge off a driving feed from Lillard cut the lead to three with three minutes remaining. However, on an in-bounds pass with 0.7 seconds on the shot clock, the clock did not start immediately, allowing Pekovic to hit a turnaround shot. With Portland within four and a minute remaining, Ricky Rubio, a 28% shooter from three, hit a three to put the game out of reach. Lillard would score 11 points, but all of them while the game was already decided.
Afflalo had 14 points starting for Wesley Matthews, who is out for the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered Thursday night versus Dallas. Kaman and Wright both had eight points off of the bench.
"The job that Wesley had on both ends of the court, it's taxing." — Arron Afflalo— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 8, 2015