Wolves Fall to Blazers
Trail Blazers 95 (31-24) - Timberwolves 81 (13-42) | Target Center
How it happened:
The Trail Blazers didn’t waste any time tonight, setting the tone directly from the tip by taking advantage of Minnesota’s drab start. In the opening moments of the game, it appeared to be déjà-vu of the January 7th contest, where Wesley Matthews was absolutely on fire from downtown. Early in the first quarter, Matthews drained back-to-back three pointers to help Portland jump out to an 18-2 lead. While Matthews didn’t exactly finish with seven three-pointers again, he compiled another brilliant game with 23 points, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. The former Mr. Basketball from Madison Memorial High continues to make the Blazers front office look genius for inking his five-year, $34 million dollar contract.
The woeful first half continued for Minnesota, as LaMarcus Aldridge dominated on the left block. Portland repeatedly dumped the ball down to Aldridge and watched the power forward go to work. Aldridge displayed great strength, agility, footwork, and an endless repertoire of post moves that left Darko Milicic puzzled. Aldridge continued to take his All-Star snub frustration out on the court, dominating early with 17 first-half points.
Despite the improved effort, the Timberwolves could not gain momentum due to an immense production shortage from the starting backcourt. Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, and Wesley Johnson combined for a dismal outing of just 1 point, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. Without injured Michael Beasley, the Timberwolves were seriously lacking in the offensive department, and ultimately fell 95-81.
Leader of the Pack:
In his second game back from a leave of absence due to personal reasons, Luke Ridnour began the contest on the bench. Ridnour admirably accepted his role as a reserve, contributing 16 points and 4 assists. Facing an 18-2 deficit, Ridnour replaced Flynn after a timeout and instantly helped rejuvenate his squad by leading a Wolves run that momentarily narrowed the lead to single-digits.
Kevin Love posted his 41st consecutive double-double, but didn’t have much of an impact on tonight’s game. Down big, late in the fourth-quarter, fans shifted their interests of the outcome of the game to Love’s consecutive streak, anxiously waiting for the tenth rebound. Love proceeded to finally grab it and finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Wesley Johnson failed to find his stroke again tonight, finishing with only 1 point on 0-of-6 shooting. Johnson saw limited action of just 12 minutes, so it was tough for the rookie to get into much of a rhythm.
The Numbers Game:
Tonight, Kevin Love became just the second player in NBA history to post 50 double-doubles before the All-Star break. The only other player to do so was George Mikan, who had exactly 50 before the break in 1950.
The Wolves will only have one day to regroup before hosting the Clippers on Wednesday night at the Target Center. The Clippers have lost three straight, including a 102-78 blowout suffered to the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
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