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PLAYERS GRADED: TIMBERWOLVES 90, BLAZERS 82

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

 

Maybe this one was coming. Maybe the Blazers were just due for a stinker--one where they couldn't buy a bucket, grab a rebound or make an easy pass.

Maybe.

Or maybe the Timberwolves earned it. Their early double-teams flummoxed LaMarcus Aldridge. Minnesota also corralled 20 offensive boards, forced 20 turnovers, and held the Blazers so 39% shooting from the field as rookie Andrew Wiggins netted his first career double-double, with 23 points and 10 rebounds. 

Indeed, it's a little confounding.

Surely the Blazers underperformed against the now 5-and-16 Timberwolves. But whether this loss represents anything more than the occasional egg laying remains mostly in question. (How Portland wraps up the current road trip should offer the answer.)

If nothing else, Wednesday's loss is a stinging, symbolic disappointment to Portland fans--with the chance to match last season's 18-4 start against one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Blazers dropped the ball.

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NICOLAS BATUM: C-
Batum stirred the Blazers with back-to-back blocks, helping ignite a fourth quarter run. (He had four swats overall.) But his shooting continues to lag. He finished with just five points, going one-for-five from distance. 

LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE: F
For the first time since February of 2008, Aldridge was held scoreless in the first half. The Wolves had a plan to limit Portland's All-Star power forward with fierce, immediate double-teams, and they executed it to near perfection. Aldridge was stifled by the collapsing defenders, and his passes out were frustrated and off-target. It wasn't so much that he was missing, but refraining from shooting much at all in the early going. While he did manage 10 points in the second half to go along with nine total rebounds, Aldridge was responsible for five turnovers. It was, without a doubt, his worst performance of the year. 

ROBIN LOPEZ: C
Another middling performance for Lopez. Fouls limited him to just 26 minutes. He finished with eight points, eight boards, and not a whole lot else worth mentioning.

WESLEY MATTHEWS: B-
Matthews was one of the few Blazers hitting from deep, Wednesday. He made four of 10 attempts from beyond the arc. But he too was foul prone, and seemingly just a bit off--never totally in the zone. 

DAMIAN LILLARD: C-
With Aldridge struggling, Lillard's scoring kept the Blazers afloat. But he took a whole lot of shots and made very few. Lillard went nine-of-24 overall and made but two-of-12 tries from distance. He finished with a team-high 23 points, five assists, and a sneaky seven rebounds. Indeed, while it was a cold shooting night for Lillard, he pushed valiantly. He just couldn't get over the hump.

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LOWLIGHT: This five-point swing--where the Blazers fumbled away a three-on-one fast break on one end and gave away a buzzer-beating three to end the quarter--really says it all.

 

 

KILLER TWEET:

 

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