Aldridge Powers Portland
Now the big question- how much do they have left in the tank? How much does LaMarcus Aldridge have left in the tank? We're about to find out.
Following another very, very late arrival into a hotel, the Trail Blazers are set to wrap up this six-game road trip with a game against the Pistons in Auburn Hills. This was the fourth time on this trip we've arrived at our hotel well after 3 a.m. I don't remember a trip in my nine years where we've had so many short nights. Yes, it's a factor. The cumulative effect of all of this lack of sleep is what is concerning.
If LaMarcus is anything close to what he was on Friday night in Toronto, it won't matter though.
Aldridge had perhaps his most dominant performance as a professional last night, as he went for 33 points, 23 rebounds, and five assists. Nothing the Raptors tried worked. They chose to single cover LaMarcus in the first half, and he had a 20-10 game in the first two quarters.
I'm sure this wasn't lost on any good Trail Blazer fan, but you notice how much better Aldridge is when Marcus Camby is on the floor? Camby made his return from a sprained ankle, and grabbed 10 rebounds and took a ton of pressure off of Aldridge. When LaMarcus is allowed to play his natural position, and not spend time covering at the center spot, he's so much better.
Not everything was perfect in this game, as the Blazers really didn't drop the hammer the way they should have. Toronto was allowed to get right back in the game early in the third quarter, and cut Portland's lead to five. But, that happens in the NBA. The game was probably never really in doubt, but Nate McMillan would have rather had this turn into a 30-point lead, and a situation where he could have dumped the bench and rested his regulars.
Not only were Aldridge and Camby very good for Portland, but Raymond Felton busted out of his slump to some degree. During Toronto's push in the third quarter, Felton had three very important field goals, and ended up with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Just having someone hit from the outside makes life easier on Aldridge and the frontline.
The Trail Blazers also outrebounded an opponent for the first time in 10 games. They dominated the rebound battle 55-40, and that was nice to see.
Portland did end up shooting a poor percentage again, as they made just 33 of their 82, for 40.2 percent. That's still very much a concern. They're shooting around 41 percent on this trip. That just makes life too difficult, and that has to improve.
Tonight it's Detroit. The Pistons also played last night, but were at home, so the back-to-back factor isn't as much of an issue. They were blown out by Memphis, and will likely come back a little stronger tonight.
I'll let you take it from here, because once again, this will be a very short day. Game prep, packing, and getting set to come home will dominate the few hours we've got before we head to the arena.
I'll hopefully post a blog from the air on the flight home, and hopefully we'll be talking about a 3-3 trip. Tonight won't be a piece of cake, but yes, it's a game Portland should win. Considering all that's gone wrong on this trip, a 3-3 record would be considered very respectable. A 2-4 record, not so much.
Talk to you tonight on TV, and then after the game right here.