Aldridge, Trail Blazers Down Timberwolves 115-104
PORTAND, Ore. -- 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.
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 led 65-57 at the break.
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.
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