MINNEAPOLIS — With Portland on the verge of a massive collapse, LaMarcus Aldridge leaped to swat away Minnesota’s comeback.
The Trail Blazers started their six-game road trip by remedying a sloppy performance with a large dose of their All-Star big man.
Aldridge had 25 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot in the closing seconds to help the Blazers hang on to beat the Timberwolves 100-98 on Monday night for their fifth win in their past seven games.
“Teams are going to pressure us, so I think it’s learning," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “But winning on the road is not easy and we needed this one."
Wes Matthews scored 22 points and Damon Lillard added 21, but they each had five of Portland’s 28 turnovers, the most in regulation by any NBA team all season. The Blazers never trailed in the game and led by 19 points with 12 minutes left, but the Wolves went to a small lineup and scored on 20 of their first 22 possessions in the fourth quarter until misfiring on their final two.
Lillard had two turnovers in the last 63 seconds, and the second one turned into a fast-break layup for J.J. Barea that cut the lead to 97-96 with 36.9 seconds left.
Aldridge calmly swished a 21-footer, and Dante Cunningham answered with a dunk on the other end. Luke Babbitt missed one of two free throws, giving the Wolves a chance to tie the game. Aldridge walled off the pick-and-roll with Nikola Pekovic, followed Ricky Rubio across the court and deflected his fade-away with 7.9 seconds left.
Asked to describe his clutch shot and block, Aldridge said, “I’ll go defense first, because defense wins games." He added: “He tried to lull me to sleep, and I kind of waited on it and blocked it."
Aldridge missed two free throws on the other end, but Cunningham’s 18-foot tying attempt fell short.
“Even though we turned the ball over a lot, we let it go. We didn’t let it bother us," Lillard said. “We just stayed in the moment and when it came time to get the job done and win the game, we did."
Rubio had 10 of his career-high-tying 14 assists in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points in 34 minutes, both season highs. Cunningham scored a career-high 23 points on 11 for 17 shooting, and Barea added 17 points.
“If we play like that, we can play with anybody," Pekovic said. “It was great that at the end we got a chance to tie the game, but we didn’t and probably that’s some way of punishment. We didn’t play hard for 48 minutes."
Aldridge was 12 for 17 from the field. All but one of his makes were 15-foot jumpers or further out.
Matthews has 78 points in three games against the Wolves this season. He hurt his right ankle on Friday at Utah and was still too sore to play in the rematch against the Jazz on Saturday, but he bounced back just fine.
“The only thing we have to do is bring the energy. Today it was awful in the first quarter. Nobody had any," Rubio said.
Nicolas Batum, his sore right wrist clearly still bothering him, finished with four points and a team-high seven turnovers. He has only 39 points in his last five games, less than half of his season average of nearly 16 points per game.
“If he or the trainer says he can’t play, then I can’t play him, but he’s very important to what we do," Stotts said.
Also on Monday:
INDIANAPOLIS — David West scored 29 points and Paul George had 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, leading Indiana past short-handed Chicago for a share of the Central Division lead. The Pacers have won three straight and extended their home winning streak to 14, matching the team’s longest since 2002-03.
MIAMI — LeBron James scored 31 points and Chris Bosh added 23 to lead Miami to its 10th consecutive victory over Charlotte. Dwyane Wade had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who have won nine of their last 10 at home. James was 13 for 14 from the field, for a career-best 93 percent shooting. The Heat improved to 19-3 on their home floor.
NEW YORK — Tyson Chandler tied a franchise record with his third straight 20-rebound game, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, and New York cruised to its fifth consecutive victory. In a game that was decided early, Chandler played long enough to grab his 20th rebound midway through the fourth quarter.
PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Hawes had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Jrue Holiday had 13 points and 14 assists to lead Philadelphia to its third straight win. Nick Young had 15 points for the Sixers, who won three straight games for the first time since the final three games of November.
SALT LAKE CITY — Randy Foye had 20 points, including six in overtime, and Utah defeated Sacramento. Paul Millsap added 14, with a key block, step-back jumper and rebound in the extra session for the Jazz, who used an 8-0 fourth-quarter run to take the lead with 2:40 left in regulation.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 24 points, Kevin Durant had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Oklahoma City blew out Dallas while avoiding a third straight overtime game between the teams.
WASHINGTON — Martell Webster scored 21 points, and Washington broke a four-game losing streak against a Los Angeles Clippers team missing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. With Griffin nursing a strained left hamstring and Paul still dealing with a bruised right kneecap, the Wizards pulled away with a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter, spurred by a pair of big offensive rebounds by Nene.