Kevin Love hit three first-quarter three-pointers as part of a 20-point first-half barrage (finishing with 29 points and 16 rebounds), as he personally outdueled Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge while his Minnesota Timberwolves downed the Trail Blazers, 106-94, Wednesday night.
Love and Aldridge went back and forth in a high scoring first half, with Love making 6-of-7 shots in his 15 point first quarter while Aldridge went 6-for-9 for 13 points in the second quarter. After halftime, both cooled considerably from the field, with Aldridge besting Love by making 2-of-6 compared to Love's 1-of-7.
But Love was more active at getting to the free throw line, where he made seven of 10 second half free throws. Aldridge was satisfied staying outside and only attempted three free throws for the entire game.
The rest of the Blazers followed suit with their All-Star as Portland only attempted one other free throw separate from Aldridge and spent the night shooting from the outside. While the Timberwolves remained quite hot from the outside, making 13-of-23 three-point shots, Portland was ice cold, shooting 3-of-23 from long range for the game and 39 percent overall in the second half. Jamal Crawford was symbolic of the cold shooting night, missing on all six of his three pointers and missing 10 of 13 overall.
Indicative of the Wolves' strong shooting night was the 22-point effort from Luke Ridnour. Luke made 8-of-16 shots, including 3-of-6 from three-point range. Ridnour and backcourt mates Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea combined for 16 assists against six turnovers as the Timberwolves moved the ball efficiently all night and attacked the glass.
Wesley Johnson had a season high 19 points as a beneficiary of the advanced ball movement, finding himself with three dunks and three 3-pointers. Johnson also had three offensive rebounds, contributing to Minnesota's 15 offensive rebounds overall.
Raymond Felton was on the attack early for Portland and helped to keep the game close early on, making his first five shots and 11 of 18 overall, scoring 23 points and dishing nine assists to keep the Blazers in the game.
The four free throws attempted by Portland was their lowest total since 2007 and only the third time since 1986 that they attempted so few free throws.
Dave at Blazer's Edge sees the reason why Minnesota stayed so hot in the second half while Portland cooled:
Portland's already rough defense against picks turned downright atrocious in the third period and remained so for the bulk of the second half. Big men didn't help their smaller comrades. The smaller defenders went around when they should have gone over and over when they should have gone around...if they didn't just hang on the screen like a lost cat to begin with. The result was either open jumpers for the Timberwolves or massive switches leading to easy mismatch points. On offense the Blazers avoided the inside game like the lane was full of cooties, this despite finding success in the first half down deep. They attempted a couple of weak alley-oops and occasionally fought for an offensive rebound. Other than that it was jumper-jumper-jumper, mostly contested. The uncontested ones were from the three-point arc but even the good shooters never bothered to square up. Guess how that went? Minnesota pulled away by double-digits. The Blazers used spurts of rebounding and forced turnovers to fight back to within 5 or so but every time the Timberwolves would just screen them off and hit another easy, open J. When the horn sounded the 'Wolves won by a dozen and Portland's road trip was off to a shaky start.
For a winner's point of view, head over to Canis Hoopus.