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Aldridge's Big Night Does In Pistons

03/16/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Behind 32 points and 12 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers (31-34) were able to defeat the Detroit Pistons (23-45) 112-101. It was the Trail Blazers final game before they head to Philadelphia to start a five-game road trip. Tonight was Aldridge's fifth game this year with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 50 percent shooting, tying LeBron James for the most such games in the NBA this season.

    "Remarkable," was the first word Terry Stotts used when asked about the night from his All-Star.

    Aldridge put in a workhorse effort for the Trail Blazers on a night when Damian Lillard struggled. Aldridge went to work at his outpost on the block, showing an array of moves from the post. He drove into the lane, he hit his turnaround fadeaway, hit a couple of jumpers. The entire repertoire was on display and it was somewhat of a surprise given how the game started with Aldridge picking up two fouls less than five minutes into the game.

    "He told me he needs to get two fouls early more often," Stotts said with a chuckle.

    Without Aldridge, Stotts was prompted earlier than he expected, to play Joel Freeland. Freeland had his best outing in a Trail Blazers uniform against a team that likes to play big. Freeland scored eight points in 7:13 in the first half, as he was dunking almost everything he touched and even set up Nicolas Batum for a fast break dunk. Freeland said that focusing on rebounding helped him get into the game more, he finished with four on the night.

    "Joel's been working really hard. Detroit plays two big guys. They don't really space the floor with a three-point shooter at four. Before LA getting two fouls, I had planned on getting Joel in the game tonight. It was just earlier than expected because of the fouls. I thought this was set up for him to play." Stotts said.

    Freeland's solid play and early aggression from Batum, has he took five shots in the first quarter, were about the only positives for the Trail Blazers in the early going as their early game defensive woes were apparent tonight. Stotts said the main concern was focus on the Trail Blazers part, but Lillard believes that the team isn't on edge in the early going.

    "I don't think we lightened up, I just think we aren't on edge enough I guess," Damian Lillard said, who had an off night from the field only going three of 12, while still scoring 14 points and dishing seven assists. "It's early in the game, it's a long game. We don't do it on purpose, it's just something we have to be better about as the year closes."

    The Trail Blazers fell behind by as much as 11 at the 3:28 mark of the second quarter. Once again, the pick and roll and interior passing kept on giving the Trail Blazers trouble. It seemed like every Detroit big man that played was ending up with a dunk in the restricted area. However, towards the end of the first half they start to tighten up defensively and they were able to cut the Detroit lead to five at halftime with Aldridge heating up towards the end, as it was only a preview of what was to come.

    Aldridge scored 32 points in the earlier match-up between these two teams in Detroit and he didn't even think about it.

    "I don't know," Aldridge replied when asked about what it is about Detroit. "I just felt good tonight. We played through the post. I thought that was good for us tonight."

    It was indeed as Aldridge continued his masterful night. However, what may be an even more encouraging sign for the Trail Blazers than the big night from Aldridge was a second consecutive aggressive performance from Nicolas Batum. Batum scored 17 points on seven of 14 shooting along with six assists, five rebounds and three blocks. His right wrist has troubled him all season, but Batum says he has just blocked it out mentally, realizing the pain in the wrist will be there regardless.

    "I just try not to think about it. Just keep moving, keep moving on. Keep shooting, I know the pain going to be there for the next 17 games so I have to play with it."

    The Trail Blazers got their lead up to 12 with five and a half minutes left in the game but Will Bynum with some help from Rodney Stuckey, who scored 30 on the night, cut the Trail Blazers lead to two points with 2:54 left in the game. Bynum scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. But after the Pistons got it within one possession, Batum hit a corner three to stop the run. The Pistons gave the Trail Blazers one more scare when Stuckey got a lay-up on the ensuing possession, but Aldridge scored five of Portland's next seven points and they were able to get a win they needed before heading on the road.

    "Make or break trip," said Aldridge as he chuckled, something he said with regards to their last road trip. "I keep saying it but we're right there and I think if we take care of business on this trip, anything is possible."

    The Trail Blazers are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks in 10th place in the Western Conference, three games back of the Lakers who are in the eighth spot, but they are only two games back in the loss column.

    The Trail Blazers start their trip on Monday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers. Tip-off for that game is set for 4PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.




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