MINNEAPOLIS -- Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts declared his own LaMarcus Aldridge the NBA's best power forward Wednesday night, so Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman countered by calling his own power forward the best in the business.
Then Kevin Love went out and ended the discussion quickly -- at least for a single night, he did -- by delivering 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Wolves in a 120-109 survival of a Trail Blazers team that entered the night at Target Center with an NBA-best 22-4 record.
Love had come within two assists of that triple-double by halftime but never quite got there during a game in which the Wolves built a 32-point, second-quarter lead over a Portland team playing its fourth game in five nights.
Then the Wolves pushed away the Blazers in the second half after the visitors got within 10 points in the third quarter. The Wolves answered with a rush of three-pointers and an 18-8 run that ended the third quarter.
That third-quarter finish pushed the Wolves' lead back to as many as 22 points before the Blazers made one final push, pulling within five points with 46 seconds left. Ricky Rubio made two free throws, and Corey Brewer followed with a steal that led to two more Rubio free throws that aborted Portland's final comeback attempt.
"It's hard to duplicate the way we played the first half," Adelman said. "Fortunately, we made some plays at the end of the third quarter to open it up."
Nikola Pekovic supplemented Love's big night with a 30-point game, one measly point away from tying his career scoring high. The Wolves scored 72 points in the paint -- "A lot," Adelman noted afterward.
Aldridge had 15 points and 14 rebounds while young Blazers star Damian Lillard scored 26 of his team-high 36 points after halftime.
The victory moved the Wolves back to .500 at 13-13, ended a five-game losing streak to Portland and was only their third victory in the past 24 games against Portland.
It also ended the Blazers' five-game winning and sent them home for Christmas from a four-game trip to Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Minneapolis with their first loss.
Lillard scored his 36 points one night after he scored 36 as well and made his second consecutive last-second game-winning shot to beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Last season's NBA Rookie of the Year also made the winning shot at the end of Sunday's game at Detroit.
The Wolves used an 11-4 run that ended the first quarter to turn a two-point lead into a 31-22 advantage after a quarter.
They then outscored the Blazers 38-21 in the second quarter and ran their lead to as big as 62-30 with 4:52 left before half.
They did it by taking the ball right at the road-weary Blazers, attacking the basket with Pekovic and others.
And they did it with Love completely outplaying Aldridge.
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