PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers fatten up when facing the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Aldridge scored a career-high 37 points and the Trail Blazers won for the 15th consecutive time over Minnesota, beating the Timberwolves 113-102 Monday night.
Aldridge hit 15 of 24 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win for Portland (22-20). Earlier this season, Aldridge matched his career high of 36 points when the Blazers (22-20) beat Minnesota on Dec. 17.
In a game on Jan. 7 in Minnesota, Blazers guard Wesley Matthews scored a career-high 36 points against the Timberwolves. he scored 23 of Portland's season-best 113 on Monday night.
Portland's 38-point third quarter was its most productive of the season. The Blazers' three highest scoring quarters of the season have come against Minnesota.
Portland's 15-game winning streak over Minnesota (10-32) is the club's longest over an opponent in 15 years. The last time the Timberwolves beat Portland was March 25, 2007.
Aldridge has been on a tear since the middle of December, averaging 26.4 points during his past 17 games. Against Minnesota, Aldridge plays like Karl Malone. He is averaging 34 points and 11 rebounds in three games against Minnesota this season.
``L.A. played like an all-star tonight. His deep post position was great,' Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
Minnesota centered its defensive game plan on Aldridge, who said the Timberwolves tried getting into his head.
``I almost lost it tonight. They were getting overly physical. I just tried to keep my head, keep going to the basket and try to stay calm,' Aldridge said.
Aldridge is making a strong run at his first NBA All-Star game, but says that hasn't been a focus.
``People put more emphasis on it than I do. I can get caught up on who is an All-Star, or I'm trying to be an All-Star, and that's when you start to play bad,' Aldridge said. ``If it happens, it happens.'
Andre Miller had 15 points and 10 assists and Rudy Fernandez had 13 points and a career-high five steals for the Blazers.
Darko Milicic and Kevin Love each scored 22 points to lead Minnesota, which has lost seven of its past eight games. Milicic hit 11 of 16 shots in his best scoring game of the season.
Love grabbed 14 rebounds.
Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis thought his team's 15 turnovers and poor free throw shooting (23 of 34) were key factors in the loss.
``We have to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball. We have better free throw shooters than we demonstrated tonight,' Rambis said.
Portland led 50-46 at halftime after a first half that featured 12 lead changes. The Blazers shot just 41 percent during the opening half, but rallied to take the halftime lead by scoring the final seven points of the second quarter.
he game turned during a 38-point third quarter for Portland. The Blazers led by 16 points after an 11-2 run midway through the quarter, and took an 88-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
``We forced them into some tough shots and we were able to get some easy baskets,' Miller said.
Minnesota closed to within 100-92 on a three-point play by Corey Brewer with 4:08 remaining, but the Blazers ended the threat with Aldridge's rebound dunk and a 3-pointer by Matthews.
NOTES: The Blazers announced that guard Brandon Roy underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on both knees Monday. Roy, a three-time NBA all star, has missed the past 16 games. It is unknown how long Roy will be sidelined Portland center Marcus Camby didn't play in the second half after complaining of knee pain at halftime. Love has 28 consecutive double-doubles, and an NBA-best 37 this season The Timberwolves' 2-20 road record is the worst in the Western Conference.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved