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Preview: Timberwolves v. Trail Blazers, 6 PM

04/01/12
  1. Written by: caseyholdahl  / avg. rating: 5.0


    There was a time not so long ago that, even when they were struggling, the Trail Blazers could count games against the TImberwolves as guaranteed victories. That is no longer the case. After losing the first two meetings of the season to Kevin Love and the Timberwolves, the Trail Blazers will need a victory Sunday night at the Rose Garden to avoid a series sweep. Tipoff is schedule for 6 PM on CSN 37 and 750 AM The Game.

    The Trail Blazers (24-28) have failed to hold the Timberwolves to under 100 points in their previous meetings, both of which were 12-point losses. Much of that damage was done by Love, who has 42 and 29-point games against Portland this season.

    "I think the biggest part of his game that makes (Love) tough to guard this year is that three ball," said LaMarcus Aldridge. "He's shooting it with confidence and shooting it with a two step jump behind the line and that's where he hurt us. It's not him in the post, it's not just pick and rolls, it's his three ball."

    Love is shooting a staggering 62 percent from the three-point line and 55 percent from the field in two games against the Trail Blazers this season.

    As good as those numbers are, they might improve if LaMarcus Aldridge, who sat out Friday night's loss to the Clippers with a left elbow sprain, is unable to play. He's averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds versus the Timberwolves this season.

    If Aldridge is unable to go, the Trail Blazers will likely look once again to newcomer J.J. Hickson, who had one of the best games of his career Friday night against the Clippers. Starting for the first time as a Trail Blazer, Hickson put up and impressive 29-point, 13-rebound performance featuring numerous rim-rocking dunks.

    “I thought J. J. [Hickson] was terrific," said Trail Blazers interim head coach Kaleb Canales. "We are excited to have him and we believe in him.  We have talked about the process with him, getting him more comfortable but we are excited about him going forward.”

    The Portland Trail Blazers will also honor Steve “Snapper” Jones with a special tribute during Sunday night's game. Team president Larry Miller will join Trail Blazers Founder Harry Glickman in recognizing Jones during a presentation at center court prior to tipoff.
     
    Sunday night's game can be seen locally on CSN 37 with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will have the radio call on 750 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network

    -------------------------------------

    GAME NOTES

    • The Trail Blazers have dropped both meetings with Minnesota this season after winning the previous 16 meetings between the teams.

    • Minnesota Head Coach Rick Adelman was the Trail Blazers’ first team captain in 1970-71 and later became the franchise’s winningest coach at 291-154 (.654). Adelman is 28-27 all-time against the Trail Blazers in the regular season.

    • In four games with Minnesota last season, Portland collected 42 steals while forcing Minnesota into 71 turnovers. The Timberwolves stole the ball 30 times while benefitting from 56 Portland turnovers.

    • LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for Portland by averaging 30.5 points (57.6% FG) and 9.5 rebounds in four games vs. Minnesota last season. Aldridge scored a then career-high 37 points against Minnesota on Jan. 17, also setting the record for most points by a Trail Blazer against Minnesota in franchise history.

    • Wesley Matthews averaged 25.8 points (50.0% 3-PT) in the four-game series against the Timberwolves last season, notching a career-best 36 points on Jan. 7 at Minnesota. In the game, Matthews set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a half by draining seven shots from deep before the break.

    • Minnesota forward Kevin Love set the Oregon State High School Basketball scoring record as a four-year starter at Lake Oswego High School.

    • Timberwolves third-year President of Basketball Operations David Kahn is a Portland native who covered the Trail Blazers as a writer for the Oregonian from 1983-89.

    • Minnesota guard Luke Ridnour was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in his last of three seasons at the University of Oregon from 2000-03.

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