Seeing LaMarcus Aldridge limp off the court Tuesday night might be the only event that took place in the Rose Garden this week that was more painful to watch than Portland's 11-point fourth quarter in Thursday night's loss to the Clippers. As tough as it was to watch, it was far tougher to live through.
"I thought I broke something because that's how painful it was," said Aldridge. "My ankle rolled over so hard, I just thought something was broke. I was in so much pain I was shaking."
Luckily for all parties involved, Aldridge's injury isn't as serious as it looked or felt. And with the Trail Blazers having lost four out of their last five, with all the losses coming at home, Aldridge will take the first tentative steps to returning to the lineup during practice on Friday.
"If I go (Friday) and I feel great then I'm definitely going to play (Saturday)," said Aldridge. "I wanted to play (Thursday) but I don't want to re-injure it, then I'm out longer. That's my whole thing is coming back too quick then re-injuring it then being out longer."
The team is likely to play it cautious with Aldridge's return. The knee-jerk reaction to four-straight home losses would be to get the recently named Western Conference All-Star back on the floor as soon as he could stand upright, but Portland's long-term prospects rest almost solely on Aldridge's shoulders, so they'll make sure there's little danger of aggravating the injury before clearing him to play against the Hawks Saturday night.
But if he's not able to go, he, along with every fan in Rip City, will have to endure at least one more hardship: watching the Trail Blazer without the services of their best player.
"I was really happy we got that win in Oakland," said Aldridge. "I thought we were going to pull it out tonight. It's definitely tough watching these games right now."