This is some kind of a ride for LaMarcus Aldridge. If he’s not named Western Conference Player of the Week, there should be an investigation. Or, just extend the investigation, that’s already underway, into how this guy isn’t an all-star (not to get that started again).
Not a bad week for LaMarcus. He had 42 against Chicago, 37 at Toronto, and 36 against the Detroit Pistons. Most importantly (and I stress that), the Trail Blazers won all three, and Aldridge was incredibly clutch in all three. Teams continue to game plan for ways to slow him down, and no one has had much success at that lately.
You have to start busting out the record books to appreciate what this has been like for Aldridge. On Sunday he became the first player in franchise history to score 36 or more in three straight games. In those three, he’s shot 63 percent from the field (41-65), and 84 percent (33-39) from the free-throw line.
Players have had weeks like this, of course. But, I can’t remember a time when a guy has had numbers this impressive, his points have been so vital, and have come in such pressure-packed situations.
Sunday night, he had the biggest bucket of the game, with :33 seconds left, that gave Portland a 99-96 lead. Clutch basket after clutch basket, helping Portland to its 30th
win of the season. They held on to beat the Pistons 105-100.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
The Trail Blazers now sit 30-24 on the season. Through 54 games last season, and I talked about this late in our TV broadcast, the Trail Blazers were 30-24. And, last season the team had played four fewer road games than this Portland team. Factor in all of the freak injuries, illnesses, and mixed up lineups on a nightly basis, and this really gets impressive.
What's also been impressive lately is Portland's offense. There were times early in the season I didn't think we'd be saying that. The Blazers, after all, have been near the bottom of the league in field-goal percentage and points per game. But, we've seen a dramatic turnaround lately. The Blazers have scored over 100 points in four-straight games, and have shot over 50 percent in all four. They are 9-1 when they shoot 50 percent or better, and are now 19-5 when scoring 100 or more.
We’re in Minneapolis now, and Monday night the Trail Blazers will take on the Timberwolves at the Target Center. Portland will be looking to make it 16-straight wins over Minnesota. The Wolves have been playing better as of late, and desperately want to end this ugly streak.
One matchup in this game will be getting a lot of attention (yes, we'll probably be guilty of focusing on it as well)- L.A. vs. Kevin Love, for obvious reasons. Aldridge has had more impressive numbers in the head-to-head matchups, and his team has won all three games. And, as you know, Love was named to the all-star team over Aldridge by David Stern. LaMarcus has continued to say that it didn't bother him as much as it bothered everyone else, but clearly it's been a motivating factor for him since it happened. He's been brilliant, and will likely be out to prove something on Monday night.
Mostly though, Aldridge will be out to help his team complete its best road trip of the season. The Trail Blazers have pulled even with Denver and Utah in the loss column, and sit just two games behind New Orleans and the fifth playoff spot in the west.