Aldridge, Trail Blazers down Timberwolves 115-104 - NBC Sports

Aldridge, Trail Blazers down Timberwolves 115-104
APWF
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love complains after he is called for a foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
January 26, 2014, 12:39 am

PORTAND, Ore. (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points in a showdown with Kevin Love that didn't live up to expectations, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to a 115-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

It was the Trail Blazers' 33rd win - matching their total from all of last season.

Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 30 points, while Love finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Aldridge hit a long jumper and drew a foul to give the Blazers a 100-88 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Damian Lillard's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 105-88 and Minnesota, coming off a back-to-back, could never catch up.

Love, named Thursday as an Western Conference All-Star starter, went into the game against the Blazers averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds, but some Portland fans and his Blazers teammates felt Aldridge - averaging 24.7 points and 11.6 rebounds - deserved the starting nod because of his role in the team's success this season.

Aldridge scored a career-high 44 points and had 13 rebounds following the All-Star announcement in Portland's come-from-behind victory at home over Denver on Thursday night. Afterward he said he "definitely" thought he should have made it.

The 6-foot-11 seventh-year veteran can still make the team as a reserve - as he has for the past two seasons - when the coaches' selections are announced later this month.

Love is a first-time All-Star starter after leap-frogging Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard in the final fan balloting.

"I think it's a little sweeter this way because I really didn't expect it," he said following the announcement.

Earlier this season, Love had 29 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in Minnesota's 120-109 home victory over the Blazers on Dec. 18.

While fans were expecting Aldridge to come out and make a statement, teammate Nicolas Batum quickly tallied 11 points and five rebounds in the first quarter. Love had 10 points to lead Minnesota, which finished the first leading 29-27.

The Blazers then took off on a 16-4 run, capped by Thomas Robinson's fast-break dunk to take a 43-33 lead. Mo Williams had 10 points in the spurt.

Portland was up 65-57 at the break, when Love led all scorers with 20.

Three straight dunks from Nikola Pekovic - off feeds from Ricky Rubio - tied the game at 73 midway through the third period. But the Timberwolves didn't pull ahead until Martin's 3-pointer made it 79-78 with 3:50 left in the period. The Blazers answered by finishing out the quarter on an 8-2 run to lead 87-81.

Portland pushed the lead to 95-86 on consecutive jumpers from C.J. McCollum.

The Timberwolves went into the game at .500 and were coming off a 121-120 victory at Golden State on Friday night.

Notes: Love is from Oregon and played for Lake Oswego High School just south of Portland. ... Rubio left Friday night's win over the Warriors with a sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter. He was questionable against the Blazers but started.

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