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Aldridge, Blazers shoot past Timberwolves

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PORTLAND, Ore. — LaMarcus Aldridge was errant from the field of late — hitting 10 of 37 shots in the previous two games — and Portland’s All-Star forward didn’t have a good feeling entering Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I felt like I was fighting a cold,” Aldridge said. “I did not shoot well in warmups, but I played better. It was one of those games where I hit my first couple of shots and just played good from there.”

Aldridge scored 26 points and snared a season-high 15 rebounds, and the Trail Blazers earned a 107-93 victory at the Moda Center.

Guard Wesley Matthews added 23 points — sinking six of 10 attempts from 3-point range — as the Blazers (13-4) rebounded from a 112-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Guard Damian Lillard collected 17 points and eight assists, and forward Nicolas Batum added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Portland, which won for the 10th time in 11 games.

Forward Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench to lead Minnesota with a career-high 28 points, while guard Mo Williams contributed 21 points and 11 assists. The Timberwolves (4-11) lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

Portland led 48-40 at halftime and never trailed through the second half, but the undersized Timberwolves never really went away.

“It was a struggle for most of the night. … a game (in which) we didn’t have a lot of rhythm,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “I’d have liked to have had a better defensive fourth quarter, but it’s hard to be too disappointed with a win.”

Aldridge made 11 of 17 shots from the field, scoring often on his patented turnaround jump shot.

“I don’t know how many teams can match up with him,” Lillard said. “He’s the best power forward in the league. They were undersized, and we thought they’d have a tough time with him. They didn’t have an answer for him.”

Matthews got hot in the second half, scoring 20 of his points after intermission. In his past three games, the 6-foot-5 Matthews is 27-for-44 from the field, including 19-for-31 from 3-point range.

“Weird, because I don’t feel that great,” he said. “My (right) elbow is sore. Teammates are finding me, but really, I’m shooting the same shots I was missing earlier in the season, the ones that were short or long. Now they’re just falling.”

Portland’s eight-point halftime lead expanded to 61-48 midway through the third quarter. The Timberwolves cut the difference to 67-61, but the Blazers, with Matthews catching fire, scored the final eight points of the quarter for a 75-61 advantage.

It was 86-70 with 8:30 to play, but the Wolves trimmed the deficit to 91-84 with 5:10 remaining. Lillard’s 3-point shot stoked the Blazers’ lead to 96-85 with 4:10 to go. The margin was still only 99-91 with 2:50 to go, but the Blazers took care of business the rest of the way.

“I thought we played really hard, but we didn’t always play smart,” Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. “(The Blazers) are just tough to overcome. They have size inside. They have perimeter (players) who can make plays off the dribble.”

Minnesota got off to a swift start, jumping to a 15-10 lead midway through the first quarter and extending it to 22-15. The Wolves took a 26-22 lead into the second quarter despite 10 points from Aldridge.

The Wolves built their edge to 32-24, but the Blazers closed the period on a 24-6 spurt to move in front 48-40 at the half. Aldridge had 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go with seven rebounds at the break, while Williams led the visitors with 11 points.

NOTES: Minnesota was without three starters: G Kevin Martin (wrist), C Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and G Ricky Rubio (ankle). A fourth starter, rookie F Andrew Wiggins, was a game-time decision with flu-like symptoms. He played 18 minutes, collecting seven points and one rebound. … Wolves coach Flip Saunders has been pleased with Wiggins’ performance. “You can’t look at our boxes and see his impact,” Saunders said. “We’ve gone to him more lately (offensively) because we’re so undermanned, but Andrew has been very good defensively. He has risen to the challenge to guard anybody, whether it’s Kobe (Bryant) or Carmelo (Anthony) or (James) Harden, and we haven’t given him a lot of help. He hasn’t had someone go for 40 on him yet.” … terry Stotts notched his 100th career victory coaching with Portland. “Wish I’d gotten it against Memphis,” he quipped. … F LaMarcus Aldridge moved into a tie with Buck Williams for fourth place on Portland’s career rebound list with 4,861. … The Blazers beat Minnesota for the fourth consecutive time.

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