Aldridge vs. Love takes center court

Blazers set to face Timberwolves in battle of top power forwards

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. — After LaMarcus Aldridge's excellent performance on Thursday when he scored 44 points, Wesley Matthews hinted that his teammate's response to not making the All-Star team as a starter that day was just a taste.

"I think his statement's going to come on Saturday, but this is a good start though," Matthews told reporters on Thursday night.

Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town on Saturday, setting up a duel of two of the best power forwards in the NBA.

Aldridge did not comment on the impending match-up, which has gotten heated a few times in the past.

Aldridge told reporters Thursday that he "definitely deserved to be a starter" in the NBA All-Star Game and it just so happens that Love has a spot that Aldridge feels he should have.

His teammates — while focused on the task of beating the Timberwolves — are excited to see the duel of two of the NBA's best big men.

"I'm a basketball fan, I do (look forward to the match-up)," Matthews said Friday. "They've always had some good battles. It always seems to bring the most out of LA."

"It'll be fun to watch," said Blazers guard Damian Lillard. "People talk about who is the better power forward between those two all the time. I'm sure LA wants to be that guy. it's another opportunity to show why he is."

In addition to the match-up, there's also the fact the Blazers feel they didn't show up to play in the previous meeting between these teams on Dec. 18, losing 120-109 at Minneapolis.

"We just weren't ready to play," Matthews said. "They came out and they were wired up. We weren't ready to play, they started making shots. That second half we were down, what were we down? Close to 40?"

Portland's biggest deficit was 32 in the second quarter.

The Blazers stormed back and cut the lead to six points in the fourth quarter but they ultimately ran out of gas on their fourth game in five nights.

They were a step slow defensively, getting beat by back door cuts and plays in transition.

The Timberwolves, much like the Nuggets on Thursday, are an eager team currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking to make a run.

Concerns about wins and the Blazers defense will endure beyond Saturday.

But the moment belongs to Love and Aldridge.

Will the adopted star of Portland be showered once again by the cheers of "M-V-P" or will the hometown boy steal the spotlight upon his return?

The answer, you could say, will be in the Stars.