Well, they had to lose sometime, right?
The Blazers, at times looking like they’d been out at sea for ages and had just returned to solid ground, snagged three wins in their 4-games-in-5-nights roadtrip, but lost this one pretty much from the opening tip, falling 109-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
First, the players. Damian Lillard, as the headline suggests, scored 36 points in back-to-back games. That’s pretty incredible. His 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block were also nice. But, as Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge suggested, this team is absolutely not built for one player to save the rest of them from poor offensive and defensive efforts, and thank goodness it’s not. When (not if) Lillard has a game like this when legs are fresher, rebounds are being contested, and the defense is a bit firmer… man oh man. It’s easy to see him scoring 50. It’s just a matter of time.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a bad game. How awesome is it that a “bad game” consists of 15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal? There were shots that usually would have fallen that just didn’t go in. No big deal. It happens, especially after playing 4 games in 5 nights on the road against a decent team. All is forgiven.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews scored 20 and 16, respectively. Batum also had 6 boards and 2 blocks. The usual contributions might have been buoyed by others being able to hit their shots or getting the rebounds the Blazers are accustomed to seeing. Speaking of which, the Blazers lose the assist battle to Minnesota 27-19, and rebounding by 53-45. That’s not typical. But, again, this wasn’t a typical night.
Mo Williams was forgettable off the bench, as was everyone else. Meyers Leonard got 5 minutes when the Blazers were being blown out.
Of note: Robin Lopez is reportedly dealing with a sore back. That might explain his production drop and his lack of minutes lately. It doesn’t seem like anything serious, but I would argue that if he’s being limited, why not rest him? Maybe he wants to prove his durability, or maybe it’s just not that big of a deal.
Not to make excuses here, but let’s be honest: good teams sometimes lose, and there are some positives to take from this. Even with the Blazers being abused to the tune of 72 (!) points in the paint by the Timberwolves; on a night when Portland took 40 threes and made just 14; and on a night where they were down by 32 (!!!) points in the SECOND QUARTER… they refused to quit. They didn’t roll over and die. They fought, and for a while, it seemed that they would come all the way back, getting as close as 5 points with 40 seconds left. That’s pretty damn impressive.
My advice: chalk it up to a long road trip, during which they won 75% of their games, and look forward to seeing the 22-5 Blazers come back to the Moda Center on Saturday when they face the 11-13 New Orleans
Jazz Hornets Pelicans at 7 p.m. PST.