Coming off a 105-99 big win against the Utah Jazz that saw the Portland Trail Blazers (25-23) tighten up the Northwest Division of the NBA‘s Western Conference, Portland had to hold out against the Minnesota Timberwolves (18-27) until the very last second in a 100-98 win.
Portland entered the fourth quarter leading the T-Wolves 77-58, a relatively large margin by NBA standards. But despite this big lead, the game turned interesting as Minnesota was able to put on an impressive fourth quarter, scoring 40 points along the way. A huge block by LaMarcus Aldridge that stopped what could have been a game-tying shot with the clock winding down.
Thrilling as this game turned out to be, the Blazers could have (and should have) pulled away with an easy victory on Monday night in Minnesota. A bevy of turnovers by Portland (28 to be exact) led to plenty of opportunities for the Timberwolves to come back into the game, and the Blazers have to get rid of the turnover bug if they want to continue to contend in the West.
But, a win is a win, and any faithful Portland fan will be more than happy to see their team two games above .500 and right behind the Houston Rockets for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
A few game notes from last night’s game: Wesley Matthews returned to the lineup last night after a brief time on the bench due to injury, scoring 22 points while passing Rudy Fernandez and Rasheed Wallace to assume the 8th position in most three-pointers made by a Portland Trail Blazer throughout their career.
Besides Matthews’ achievement, here is what we loved and hated from Portland’s close victory over Minnesota.
LaMarcus Aldridge is a Star
Well, after my doubting him for quite some time, Aldridge is beginning to prove his worth to me. I know that he was already selected to the all-star game and is considered a great player, but there have always been times when he played rather inconsistently.
With his effort last night, and in recent games, Aldridge is quickly solidifying himself as one of the best players in the league. He can hit a shot from just about anywhere on the court and is one of the most versatile players on Portland’s roster.
Last night Aldridge shot 12 for 17, racking up 25 points and hauling in 13 rebounds while coming up with two blocks, one of which helped solidify a Blazer victory.
Wesley Matthews is Back
As mentioned above, Wesley Matthews had seen some time on the bench as he suffered an injury against the Utah Jazz two contests ago. While is was a brief absence, it was good to see Matthews back on the floor and contributing for the Blazers.
His health will be vital as Portland makes a run towards the playoffs.
There is nothing more frustrating in any sport that turnovers. Worse than not even attempting a shot, turnovers lead to momentum swings, easy points for the opposing team, and a team that is difficult to watch at times.
The Blazers were exactly that on Monday night as they turned the ball over way too often and way too much as they let the Timberwolves jump back into the game. Leading the way in turnovers was Nicolas Batum, with seven total on the night. Speaking of Batum…
Nicolas Batum is missing
Yes, you read that right: Nicolas Batum is currently missing from Portland’s roster and nobody can seem to find him. Well, in actuality Batum is still putting in minutes but not doing anything with them. After putting together some impressive weeks for Portland, Batum has all but disappeared from significance as he is more of a burden than an athlete right now.
As mentioned above, Batum had a team-leading seven turnovers last night to go along with his 35 minutes of play and four points.
Will the real Batum please stand up?