For the past several years, the NBA has been lopsided as far as talent is concerned. The Western Conference teams are way more stacked with all-stars and leaders than the Eastern Conference. Now that Lebron James has crossed the line and saddled up with the Lakers, it’s even worse. Of the 15 teams in the Western Conference, 11 of them have records at, or over .500. Compare that to the Eastern Conference’s six teams, and you’ve got a teeter-totter with a penny on one side, and an anvil on the other.
That being said, the Trail Blazers play as of late isn’t gonna hack it amongst their conference’s field of teams. For some reason they’re already looking mentally and physically tired this season. Dropping a couple wins here and there between a handful of losses is not a good formula for success. You can’t just tread water and hope that you won’t drown when the water is brimming with sharks. You’ve gotta stay composed and swim hard.
Last night the Blazers pushed up against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Coming off a blow-out win against the poor, poor Phoenix Suns on Thursday, it was a chance for the Blazers to get themselves pointed back in the right direction. Unfortunately, in order to do that they had a massive obstacle in their way named Karl-Anthony Towns. The Blazers have gone 1-1 against the Timberwolves so far this season, and Towns certainly made it difficult for the Blazers in both of those contests. The big men wearing red and black were gonna have their hands full.
To quote Damian Lillard in the postgame interview with Brook Olzendam, it was a “dogfight” between the two teams. Despite the snarl of the Timberwolves, Nurk put up 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Lillard cranked in 28 points to get the Blazers a win, 113-105.
It was a competitive game to start the first. The Blazers ran circles around the Timberwolves’ defense and got some quality points in the paint from Nurk and Al-Farouq Aminu. They worked the give-and-go with a surgeon’s precision. The Timberwolves kept it close getting some good threes and other longer shots, but the Blazers defense wasn’t letting them get much more than that. It was also quite helpful that Towns had to sit after he got two fouls in the first three minutes of the game.
The Blazers grew their lead to start the second quarter, but once Towns stepped back onto the court he helped the Timberwolves whittle it down until the game was tied at 37. The Blazers defense ticked back up and never let the Timberwolves get a lead. In fact, it was a swat party underneath the Timberwolves’ hoop. The Blazers logged seven spectacular blocks before the halftime buzzer blew. The Blazers took a meager two point lead into the locker room, 53-51.
The Blazers came out looking taught and coolheaded after their halftime rest. Instead of taking their foot off the gas and stumbling through the third like they have been lately, they got their lead up to double digits for the first time in the game. Sadly, it didn’t last long. With three minutes left in the quarter the Timberwolves smashed it down to one. With a quick turnaround shot in the paint over Aminu, Towns got the Timberwolves their first lead of the half.
At the start of the fourth it was very apparent that the Blazers were determined to stick with it and not let the Timberwolves skate with a win. Even though the lead changed hands multiple times in the last five minutes of the game, the Blazers never lost their poise. With two big threes from Lillard and CJ McCollum in the final minute, the Blazers locked in the victory.
Now, can the Blazers harness this momentum and keep the wins coming? Here's hoping...