Aldridge, Blazers hang on to beat Wolves 100-98
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With Portland on the verge of a massive collapse, LaMarcus Aldridge leaped to swat away Minnesota's comeback.
The Trail Blazers started their six-game road trip by remedying a sloppy performance with a large dose of their All-Star big man.
Aldridge had 25 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot in the closing seconds to help the Blazers hang on to beat the Timberwolves 100-98 on Monday night for their fifth win in their last seven games.
"Teams are going to pressure us, so I think it's learning," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "But winning on the road is not easy and we needed this one."
Wes Matthews scored 22 points and Damian Lillard added 21, but they each had five of Portland's 28 turnovers, the most in regulation by any NBA team all season. The Blazers never trailed in the game and led by 19 points with 12 minutes left, but the Wolves went to a small lineup and scored on 20 of their first 22 possessions in the fourth quarter until misfiring on their final two.
Lillard had two turnovers in the last 63 seconds, and the second one turned into a fast-break layup for J.J. Barea that cut the lead to 97-96 with 36.9 seconds left.
Aldridge calmly swished a 21-footer, and Dante Cunningham answered with a dunk on the other end. Luke Babbitt missed one of two free throws, giving the Wolves a chance to tie the game. Aldridge walled off the pick-and-roll with Nikola Pekovic, followed Ricky Rubio across the court and deflected his fade-away with 7.9 seconds left.
Asked to describe his clutch shot and block, Aldridge said, "I'll go defense first, because defense wins games." He added: "He tried to lull me to sleep, and I kind of waited on it and blocked it."
Aldridge missed two free throws on the other end, but Cunningham's 18-foot tying attempt fell short.
"Even though we turned the ball over a lot, we let it go. We didn't let it bother us," Lillard said. "We just stayed in the moment and when it came time to get the job done and win the game, we did."
Rubio had 10 of his career-high-tying 14 assists in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points in 34 minutes, both season highs. Cunningham scored a career-high 23 points on 11 for 17 shooting, and Barea added 17 points.
"If we play like that, we can play with anybody," Pekovic said. "It was great that at the end we got a chance to tie the game, but we didn't and probably that's some way of punishment. We didn't play hard for 48 minutes."
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