Aldridge and Blazers once again stick it to Love and the Timberwolves
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Portland Trailblazers have made no secret they were upset that Kevin Love was named to the All-Star team over LaMarcus Aldridge and on Monday, they took their anger out on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Blazers beat the Wolves 95-81 and swept the four game season series, extending their win-streak over Minnesota to 16 games.
Aldridge came into the game averaging 33.7 points a game against the Wolves and, with the added motivation of the All-Star snub, put up a solid 21 point, six rebound performance. Aldridge was instrumental in building the first-half lead, putting up 17 before halftime.
Love, on the other hand, couldn't live up to his All-Star billing. He just barely managed to eke out his 41st consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds but make no mistake about it, the Blazers owned him. He did not even attempt a field goal until 4:09 left to play in the first half and the double-double wasn't secured until a rebound with 4:55 left in garbage time.
Love admitted after the game he felt the Blazers were putting an extra effort on him because of the All-Star hype, "They just didn't want me to touch the ball."
This wasn't the first time that Aldridge has out-performed Love this season in their team's head-to-head meetings. In the four game set, Aldridge has gotten the better of Love three times and -- more importantly -- gotten four victories.
Love vs Aldridge
Dec. 17: Blazers 107 – Wolves 102
Aldridge: 36 points (15-of-22 .682), 10 rebounds, five blocks, two assists, 42:01
Love: 19 points (8-of-17 .471), 17 rebounds, four assists, 39:45
Jan. 7: Blazers 108 – Wolves 98
Love: 30 points (10-of-15 .667), 19 rebounds, two assists, steal, 39:25
Aldridge: 28 points (10-of-18 .550), 10 rebounds, four assists, 38:44
Jan. 17: Blazers 113 – Wolves 103
Aldridge: 37 points (15-of-24 .625), 12 rebounds, two blocks, two steals, 41:27
Love: 22 points (8-of-20 .400), 17 rebounds, four assists, steal, 39:14
Aldridge: 21 points (8-of-19 .421), six rebounds, five assists and two steals
Love: 12 points (3-of-7 .428), 11 rebounds, assist.
It wasn't just Love that struggled; the entire Wolves starting five, who were once again without Michael Beasley, appeared to be out to lunch for the third straight game at home.
Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer and Wesley Johnson -- all starters -- finished with a combined one point on 0-for-11 shooting and were benched for most of the second-half including the entire fourth quarter.
If it wasn't for a strong game from the Wolves' bench, this game would have been a total blood bath -- rather than just partially.
The bench outscored the starters 43 to 38.
Coach Kurt Rambis made it clear that he isn't getting enough effort out of his players, "You can see when an athlete is giving effort and you can tell when he is not. That is the bottom line."
Saying the Wolves came out flat in the first quarter would be doing a disservice to other performances that have been dubbed flat. The Blazers stormed out to a 18-2 lead with 6:15 left in the first quarter and withstood a brief Wolves bench surge to take a 29-14 lead after the first frame.
"We laid an egg there from the start and defensively (Portland) did a good job," Love said.
"We weren't doing things right at the beginning of the ball game," Rambis said. "The execution wasn't there, the energy wasn't there, the ball movement wasn't there. You could just see it everywhere."
Martell Webster returned to action after missing the last four games with back spasms and showed some of the spark off the bench that he had during preseason before undergoing back surgery. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, grabbed six boards and dished three assists.
After the game, Webster was less than pleased with the team's effort.
"We got to bring it, it's plain and simple. It's what we call came into this league for, at least I hope so, is that competition," Webster said. "We need to bring it from the get go and I think we did a terrible job of that the first eight minutes of this game.
Rambis has said the point guard position would remain fluid now that Luke Ridnour has returned from after dealing with a family issue but it was clear who his go-to guy was.
Ridnour's 35 minutes was nearly three times the run that Flynn got. Ridnour hit back-to-back threes in the second quarter that prevented the Blazers from running away with things. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting including 3-of-5 from three, four assists and three turnovers.
Flynn, on the other hand, struggled once again, putting up zeros across the stat sheetin his 12 minutes of play -- except for the two turnovers.
The Wolves are 0-4 in February home games and have gotten beat by an average of 16.5 points. An NBA team cannot give the effort the Wolves gave tonight and expect to win anywhere, but it is even more disconcerting when it happens in on your home court.
Rambis says it is on the players, not him, to get amped up for games.
"I have just never believed that you can do the Knute Rockne stuff every ball game. Young players have to learn how to get themselves ready to play," Rambis said. "That is part of their job to be ready for practice and be ready for games."
The Wolves have a practice Tuesday and Rambis told the team they will meet to discuss the team's effort level before playing their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center.