Timberwolves bury Blazers from downtown with commanding 106-94 win
Portland TV announcer Mike Barrett summed up the game right after Martell Webster hit a three late in the fourth quarter to give the Minnesota the dagger with a simple “ugh”. For a team that only averages 32% from three, the Timberwolves (21-19) caught the Portland Trail Blazers (19-20) on an off-shooting night as they simply could not miss from distance, hitting 13-23 from downtown and star Kevin Love getting the best of LaMarcus Aldridge once again in round two after facing each other five days ago. The Blazers could not find an answer even though they were hitting around 70% from the floor in the first quarter they were still behind by six points and never could regain themselves, losing 106-94 after beating the ‘Wolves 16 straight times that goes back to 2007 and start this seven-game road trip with a downer.
Barrett also pointed out that if you add up the threes made by the ‘Wolves from Saturday to tonight, they made a combine 25-46 as Portland’s defenders were slow or not noticing to get back to cover and the ‘Wolves were hitting free, open and loose. Guys like Wesley Johnson are knocking them down and Love goes 3-3 in the first half and at least five steps behind the line. Raymond Felton who had a decent performance against the Hornets came out and continued his ways, hitting his first and only three and then driving inside the lane for the sweet lay up. LaMarcus Aldridge who wanted to get revenge on Love after allowing him to score 42-points, hits his first two and looks pretty good but falls prey to foul trouble as Love gets the attention of the refs and has to sit for a good amount of time and Portland fall 37-31.
Once Aldridge came back halfway through the second he was a man on fire, hitting 6-7 from the field and goes hard against Darko Milicic and a swifty spin (a la Hakeem Olajuwon) move over Ricky Rubio. The best the Blazers could get to was behind by five but it was all about Love, and the hot hand from Luke Ridour and the ‘Wolves are playing playoff inspired basketball and take a comfortable 61-54 lead into the locker room.
It was more of the same the rest of the way, it took Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews until the second half to contribute some scoring, Nicolas Batum made his presence known before half and then disappeared. Rubio had a quiet night and started to light up, hitting a wide open three and Love just doing hard work inside. Anytime Love got bullied around he automatically got the call his way, and the opposite for Portland as they only went to the foul line just three times. Looking for offensive, Aldridge went cold turkey and the only real Blazer looking to score was Felton. Wallace hit some key jumpers to cut the lead all the way down to five and the game was looking to get closer, but a Webster three and cool hands of Ridnour crush any Portland hopes.
It’ll be interesting if Raymond Felton’s positive play as of late will help his chances of staying in Portland. He had a lot of success down in the paint for 23 Pts, 9 Ast on 11-18 shooting. If it wasn’t for the two early fouls, LaMarcus Aldridge would’ve hit the 20-point mark by halftime as the second period belonged to him, 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Stl on 10-18 shooting from the floor. Gerald Wallace led the charge late to cut the lead but in the end fell short and almost had a triple-double with 13 Pts, 9 Reb and 9 Ast. Wesley Matthews scored 13 Pts off the bench and one technical foul talking after handing the ball to a ref.
Jamal Crawford on the other hand did not help his chances, terrible night for him as he shot 3-13 from the field for only 6 Pts, 3 Ast and his shot was constantly off target and too deep.
Kevin Love follows his 42-point game in Portland with 29 Pts, 16 Reb, 3 Ast and 3-5 from three on 9-17 shooting. He could hit anything he basically wanted even if he’s a whole another foot behind the three-point line. Oregon alumn Luke Ridnour follows closely with 22 Pts, 5 Ast and 3-6 from three.
The Blazers unfortunately faced a hot team playing their best basketball not only this season but in four years. The ‘Wolves shot 47% from the floor and really got their lead with the 56% shooting from three while the Blazers could muster 3-23 from three at 13%. Also consider that Portland was 3-4 from the foul line as a team and Minnesota 19-26……
- Points in the paint: Portland 48; Minnesota 30.
- Rebounds: Portland 37; Minnesota 47.
- Assists: Portland 27; Minnesota 23.
- Steals: Portland 7; Minnesota 5.
- Blocks: Portland 4; Minnesota 1.
- Turnovers: Portland 9; Minnesota 12.
- Season series: Minnesota up 2-0 on Portland
Now it should’ve been a reasonable victory for the guys in black but Portland still continued to show trouble on guarding the high pick and roll that the ‘Wolves thrive on. It only boosts their confidence as they continue to climb into snagging a possible playoff seed while the Blazers are on the outside looking in. Portland will face the Boston Celtics next who were just beaten by 30 points to the 76ers and will look to get back on track.
photos courtesy of oregonlive.com/blazers