Minnesota vs. Portland: How Matthews, Lillard Helped Trail Blazers over Wolves

Alex Tam@alexctamCorrespondent IIINovember 24, 2012

The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back after a 27-point loss to the Phoenix Suns to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 103-95, on Friday night at the Rose Garden.

The Blazers (6-6) moved one-half game ahead of Minnesota for fourth place in the Northwest Division, and one-half game behind the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz (7-6) for second place.

Portland received a huge night from its starting backcourt as Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard combined for 58 points off 23-of-34 shooting, 12 assists and just two turnovers.

Here are the grades, analysis and breakdown of the Blazers' victory.


Player of the Game

Wesley Matthews: 30 points, 4 steals, 3 assists, 12-17 FG

Matthews has quietly had an excellent season so far for Portland, but opponents have certainly taken notice as of late.

The four-year veteran scored nine of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. It eclipsed his season high of 22 points from the season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Matthews is currently averaging career highs in points (16.1), assists (2.4), steals (1.8) and minutes (37.2).



Key Moment of the Game

After the Blazers led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, Minnesota climbed back to within 97-91 when Kevin Love hit three free throws with 3:30 left.

But Matthews responded immediately with an 18-foot jumper, and Lillard scored four points over the final minute and a half to hold off the Wolves.


Lillard Watch

Lillard was sensational with 28 points, eight assists and zero turnovers in 37 minutes.

The 28 points were a career high, besting his previous mark of 27 in a win over the Houston Rockets on Nov. 16.

He became the first rookie to tally at least 28 points and eight assists with no turnovers in a game since Stephen Curry on March 15, 2010 (via Trail Blazers PR on Twitter).


Tweets of the Night

We are a tough team when we defend like that! Proud of this team, great bounce back game #ripcity #ohgod

— Wesley Matthews (@wessywes2) November 23, 2012


Good win tonight fellas.... Way to bounce back. Now lets get mentally ready for this long road trip...

— J.J. Hickson (@Hickson21) November 23, 2012


DWilliams' on coming close to being a Blazer...did he listen to speculation or have inside info? "I guess you could say inside information."

— Jerry Zgoda on Derrick Williams, Star Tribune, November 23, 2012


What They Said

"Wes Matthews and Lillard ... they just couldn't miss. It's as easy as that," Love said. (via ESPN.com)

"There haven't been too many games where I could really just let go -- it felt really good," Matthews said. (via ESPN.com)

While New Orleans' No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis, started the season nagged by injuries, Lillard has established himself as the early leader in the clubhouse for the NBA's Rookie of the Year. (Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune)



Final Grade: B

With zero points from the bench at halftime, along with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum struggling, the Blazers still hung in the game.

Portland finally got some help in the second half from its much-criticized reserves with nine points, and surprise, the Blazers pulled away.

The Blazers are receiving great performances from their starters, and the only question is if they can stay healthy and keep it up for the entire season.


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