Trail Blazers vs Timberwolves Monday, 02/04/13 AT 05:00PM

Aldridge Big Late In 100-98 Win In Minnesota

02/04/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers (25-23) with 25 points and 13 rebounds in a big 100-98 win over the Timberwolves (18-27) to start their six-game road trip in Minnesota. Aldridge hit a big shot and made two big defensive plays in the final seconds. The Trail Blazers never trailed and survived a late surge from the Timberwolves in the fourth quarter.

    "We were loose with the ball most of the night," Terry Stotts said as the Trail Blazers amassed 28 turnovers, tying a league-wide season high for turnovers. "Some of that was their defense, some of that was on us. We led start to finish and it's good to get a win on the road."

    Despite a 40-point fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers put themselves in a position to survive a run throughout the game and made enough plays down the stretch on both ends to hold onto the victory in their first of a six-game road trip.

    Before the game, Wesley Matthews was deemed a game time decision. We can only wonder how big of a factor his 28 points per game average against the Timberwolves coming into the game had in his deciding to play. No matter the reason, Matthews started and he was clearly "helping the team," which he said would be the deciding factor in whether he would play or not. He scored nine points in the first quarter and 16 in the first half on his way to 22 points. He was four of eight on threes.

    Nicolas Batum (35 minutes, four points, 2-4 FG), clearly bothered by his injured right wrist was limited offensively as the injury bothers him when he shoots or passes with his dominant hand. With Batum struggling, Damian Lillard (21 points, six assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge helped Matthews carry the load. Lillard and Aldridge were the only Trail Blazers to score field goals in the final four minutes.

    In the third quarter with the help of some fast breaks, Portland turned their 11-point halftime lead into a 19-point lead heading into the final quarter. Portland was shooting the lights out as every Trail Blazer that played made a field goal and the team shot 58.6 percent and 38.9 percent from the three-point line. Portland's success playing a free flowing style helped them overcome 28 turnovers and sub 70 percent free-throw shooting.

    Ricky Rubio had a 15-point, 14-assist night and former Trail Blazer Dante Cunningham scored 23 points off the bench. Both players did the majority of their damage in the fourth quarter where the Timberwolves scored 40 points. Portland had seven of their turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves cut the Portland lead to one twice in the final minute.

    First Aldridge answered with a long two off a pick and pop with Damian Lillard to extend it to three. After a Cunningham dunk cut the lead to one again, Luke Babbitt split a pair of free-throws to make it a two-point game and eventually the final score at 100-98. Despite the offensive plays, few plays were bigger than Aldridge's block on an attempted floater by Rubio with 7.9 second left. Aldridge would miss both free-throws on the ensuing trip to the line but he successfully defended Dante Cunningham on Minnesota's final attempt to send the game to overtime.

    "Fourth quarter Rubio, Barea and Shved were doing a good job on the pick-and-rolls and penetrating. We weren't very tight on the paint but that possession Aldridge came over to help. A matter of fact, two possessions Aldridge defended really well to take away some opportunities but that was a good read on his part," said Stotts of Aldridge's defense.

    Although Portland turned it over 28 times, Stotts is just happy to get a tough road win.

    "I wouldn't say I'm mad about the turnovers. We have to clean that up and clean up our decisions. Teams are going to pressure us, so I think it's learning. Like I said, winning on the road is not easy and we needed this one to start the road trip."

    Portland's next game is on Wednesday in Dallas against the Mavericks. That game will begin at 5:30 PM and will be shown on CSNNW. It can also be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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