x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Trail Blazers take win in meeting of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love

Aldridge's Blazers outdueled Love's Minnesota Timberwolves 115-104 on Saturday after Love on Thursday was voted into the West's All-Star starting line-up over Aldridge.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points for Portland on Saturday night. Mark D Smith / USA Today Sports
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points for Portland on Saturday night. Mark D Smith / USA Today Sports

PORTAND, United States // Everyone it seems was talking about the showdown between Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Minnesota’s Kevin Love.

Except Aldridge and Love.

“All he kept saying was ‘All I care about is the win,”’ teammate Mo Williams said of Aldridge.

“Much ado about nothing,” Love countered.

In the end, Aldridge had 21 points to help the Trail Blazers down the Timberwolves 115-104 on Saturday night. Love, coming off a back-to-back, had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“We didn’t both particularly have a great game,” Love said. “Other people stepped up on both of our teams – but he came away with the win.”

It was the Trail Blazers’ 33rd win – matching their total from all of last season.

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 three-pointer pushed the lead to 105-88 and Minnesota could never catch up. Aldridge is 12-3 in head-to-heads with Love.

Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 30 points, while Nikola Pekovic had 23 points and 11 rebounds.

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 players 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 centre Dwight Howard in the final fan balloting.

“I think it’s a little sweeter this way because I really didn’t expect it,” he said following the announcement.

Earlier this season, Love had 29 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in Minnesota’s 120-109 home victory over the Blazers on December 18.

Love said his knees felt the previous night’s 121-120 victory at Golden State all through the game against Portland.

“Last night I took a pretty bad hit from Harrison Barnes and every time I sat down during the game my knees stiffened up a little.”

Aldridge, who had his 11th straight game with 20 or more points, also cited some fatigue.

“I thought both guys competed,” he said of the matchup. “I was a little tired and I thought he was tired on the second night of a back-to-back.”

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. Williams, who finished with 16 points off the bench, had 10 points in the spurt.

Portland led 65-57 at the break.

Three straight dunks from Pekovic – off feeds from Ricky Rubio – tied the game at 73 midway through the third quarter. But the Timberwolves didn’t pull ahead until Martin’s three-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 their lead to 95-86 on consecutive jumpers from rookie CJ McCollum.

The Blazers outscored the Timberwolves 60-46 in the paint, and Portland’s bench outscored Minnesota’s 34-15.

“The second half we just ran out of gas,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “I noticed it. We made runs at them, we caught them in the third quarter, but they kept having one more run.”


Clippers 126, Raptors 118

Jamal Crawford scored a season-best 37 points and had 11 assists, and Blake Griffin scored 30 points, as the Los Angeles Clippers (31-15) defeated the Toronto Raptors (22-21) 126-118.

Terrence Ross led the Raptors by tying the club record with 51 points on 16-for-29 shooting including 10-for-17 from three-point range.

He missed a free throw with four seconds to play that would have erased Vince Carter’s club record set in 2000.

Thunder 103, 76ers 91

NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant scored 32 points in the Thunder’s 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, extending to 10 his consecutive-game streak with 30 or more,

He added 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, and the fifth of his career.

Durant, who missed Friday night’s victory in Boston with a sprained right shoulder, is just the sixth NBA player since 1990 to fashion a 30-point-plus streak of 10 games or more.

He shot 12-for-17 from the floor, as the Western Conference-leading Thunder (35-10) won their seventh straight.

James Anderson had 19 points to lead the Sixers (14-30).

Grizzlies 99, Rockets 81

Technically, it was not a doubleheader sweep but the Memphis Grizzlies’ 99-81 victory over Houston was their second win over the Rockets in a 24-hour span.

The Grizzlies (22-20) had a huge edge in assists (23 to 14) and owned the boards 52-38. They shot 46.6 percent (41-for-88) and earned their seventh win in their last eight games.

Mike Conley paced the Grizzlies with 17 points.

Houston (29-17) got 16 points from James Harden and 10 points and 12 rebounds from Dwight Howard.

Bulls 89, Bobcats 87

DJ Augustin scored 28 points against his former team, including 15 in the decisive fourth quarter, as the Chicago Bulls (22-21) beat the Charlotte Bobcats (19-27) 89-87.

Augustin, a first-round pick of the Bobcats in 2008 who spent four seasons with the team, broke the 20-point mark for the third time in his last four games.

He hit six three-pointers, including three in the fourth quarter when the Bulls pulled away.

Hawks 112, Bucks 87

Paul Millsap notched 20 points and eight rebounds, along with four assists and two steals, to lead Atlanta (23-20) over Milwaukee (8-35).

Reserve forward Mike Scott added 14 for the Hawks.

Brandon Knight’s 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting paced the Bucks.

Nuggets 109, Pacers 96

Wilson Chandler scored 25 and JJ Hickson had 14 points and 13 rebounds as Denver (21-21) dealt Indiana (34-9) their second 10-plus point loss in their last three games.

Ty Lawson scored 12 on 6-of-11 shooting and dished 10 assists for the Nuggets. Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 23 points and Paul George supplied a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, adding six assists.

Jazz 104, Wizards 101

Turkish centre Enes Kanter had 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting as Utah (15-29) edged Washington (21-22).

The Wizards’ Polish centre, Marcin Gortat, went for 14 points and 11 rebounds opposite Kanter. Trevor Ariza also scored 23 in the loss.