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Battling Stomach Bug, Blazers Top Timberwolves

Monday, December 01, 2014




THAT WAS: The Pepto Bowl. Both Portland and Minnesota were hit with some sort of stomach bug. For the Blazers, CJ McCollum and Will Barton were held out. And though Damian Lillard suffered the same affliction and was listed as questionable before the game, did indeed start. His play, however, was sluggish, reflecting the malaise. 

The Timberwolves too were stricken, as starting center Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin were out with a range of maladies. Minnesota rookie and top-overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Andrew Wiggins was also a game time decision with the stomach bug and, like Lillard, he decided to go. After a decent start, though, Wiggins faded, and played only 18 total minutes.



TURNING POINT: The Blazers' ended the first half on a 17-4 run. After erasing an early Wolves Portland would not relinquish it. Despite being without a significant portion of their talent, the undermanned Wolves hung around. While they never really threatened the Blazers, they kept things just close enough to deny Portland's starters any extended rest.

ON FIRE: Wesley Matthews. Over the last week Matthews has been setting the nets ablaze. Over the last three games Matthews has hit an astounding 19 of 31 attempts from beyond the arc. He drilled six in Charlotte, seven against the Grizzlies, and six more against the Wolves, making Matthews the only player in the NBA with three consecutive games of five or more three-pointers this season.   Better yet, he became just the fourth player ever to record three-straight games with six or more three's.

ICE COLD: Nicolas Batum. It's been almost a wash--for as hot as Matthews has been, Batum has been frigid. He did, at least, break the most ignominious bit of the cold-snap--after missing 19-straight tries he made the 20th. But Batum promptly missed his next attempt only moments later. All together, Sunday, the Frenchman  made just one of his eight shots from downtown.

Batum did, however, affect the game in other ways. His penetration and passing broke Minnesota's zone, which stilted the Blazers early. Batum also grabbed eight rebounds, handed out five assists to go with his 10 points. Still, it seems as if the knee that kept him out of a few games while receiving PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) therapy may be a lingering issue.

MILESTONE: Terry Stotts got his 100th win as the Trail Blazers' coach.



MVP: LaMarcus Aldridge. While he banged and elbow after taking a hard fall in the third quarter and seemed to be experiencing discomfort or tightness in his lower back earlier, Aldridge soldiered on, scoring and rebounding as Portland's locomotive. Aldridge finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and two assists while making 11-of-17 attempts from the field.




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