Road Takes: Sleepy first half dooms Blazers in Minnesota
The fourth game in five nights and the last game before heading back home for the Holiday’s didn’t end on a high note for the Trail Blazers.
Minnesota’s big man duo of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic dominated the Blazers in the post and on the perimeter.
Following Portland’s dramatic victory against Cleveland last night, the Blazers were sluggish, allowing the Wolves to get out in transition and get easy baskets early in the game.
Robin Lopez never seemed to find his footing in this one as as Pekovic was able to get his shots where he wanted and Lopez finished with only 2 points and five rebounds.
From up and down the roster, this wasn’t a very good performance, save for Damian Lillard who continues to ascend to be on another level on this road trip.
Lillard scored 36 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists in tonight’s loss.
For the talk about the Love-Aldridge match-up, Love was the one who put his stamp on the game. Aldridge’s jumper seemed like it lacked the legs and he went 7-22 on the night but did finish with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Love was spectacular and was one assist shy of his first career triple-double. The Lake Oswego native finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists against Aldridge.
The Wolves, fueled by easy baskets and their tandem of big men, led the Blazers by as much as 32 points in the first half. It wasn’t just that, the Wolves were doing literally everything better than the Blazers in the first half and Portland looked a) disinterested and b) fatigued.
Ricky Rubio was having all kinds of fun and Love was playing like he wanted to prove that he’s the best power forward in the league.
Portland came out in the third quarter playing well, as they have done throughout the season. They got the Wolves lead down to 10 points with 3:33 left in the 3rd quarter but the Wolves roared back behind Love and JJ Barea who pushed the lead back up to 19 points after the third.
Lillard wouldn’t let the Blazers die. He hit 3 threes in the final period and the Blazers were able to get the Wolves lead down to five points in the final minutes. However, the hole that they dug themselves proved to be too big.
The loss moves the Blazers to 22-5 on the season, 1/2 game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in the Western Conference.