Well, the Portland Trail Blazers are no longer the best in the Western conference, as the tiresome route of playing four road games in five days became a bit too much in the end of their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, succumbing to a near triple double from Kevin Love, leading his team back to .500 with the 120-109 win.
Love, who finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists was shy only four assists from the triple double by the end of the first half. One of the more interesting things about his performance was how much better he looked than LaMarcus Aldridge, two players who are often mentioned as the best power forwards in the league. While Love was doing everything well for the Timberwolves, Aldridge had a rough night with only 7-of-22 from the field, scoring 15 points.
A lot of times this season games have been decided for the Timberwolves depending on how well Ricky Rubio did offensively. He was having a rough night on both ends of the floor, finishing with only 2-of-11 for 9 points and 7 assists, while having to go through the nightmare of guarding Damian Lillard, possibly the hottest player in the league right now. Lillard scored 36 points on a very wild 7-of-14 night from beyond the arc, hitting 15 three pointers in the last couple of games.
The Timberwolves had offensive weapons of their owns besides Love. Nikola Pekovic led the team as he completely dominated in the paint, scoring 30 points and adding 9 rebounds on a 14-of-19 day from the field. Kevin Martin scored 22 points on a mostly efficient day from him while J.J. Barea added 10 points coming off the bench.
The Blazers, as always, couldn’t look for too much support from their bench, and had to rely on the starters who at this point probably need a bit of rest, playing next time only on Saturday. Robin Lopez didn’t take a single shot from the field, looking quite worn out from having to battle with Love and Pekovic under the basket, usually ending up on the losing end of the fray.
The Timberwolves are trying to look beyond the individual stats Love has been putting up, trying to get the ball rolling again so they can make the playoffs. Their defense has been an issue and so has offensive consistency, but maybe getting Love more of the playmaking duties and giving Rubio a chance to move without the ball and look for some easier shots than he’s been taking so far is a good approach. The Blazers aren’t used to losing this season, and preferred comparing this game to how it looked like last year, especially at the end of the season, when everything collapsed.
Kevin Love – I did think I was looking at it right in the face tonight, but it didn’t happen for me. Guys kept saying just get one more. I just said let’s get a … win. How about that? I’m way more happy with that more than anything.
Damian Lillard – You know last year, that probably would’ve been a game where we just said all right we’re going to give it a shot in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we probably would’ve ended up laying down. But we fought back, and I think with a minute and a half it was a game.