Aldridge Back But No Where Near Better Than Ever
LaMarcus Aldridge is in a tough position. His left ankle, which he rolled against the Warriors on January 2, is far from healed. According to Aldridge, it’s at 70 percent, which makes doing the things on the court that he’s accustomed to doing incredibly difficult. Braces and tape can only do so much.
Nevertheless, Aldridge played 41 minutes on Tuesday night, finishing the game with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Not a bad stat line for a guy playing on a bad wheel (also worth pointing out that his right ankle isn’t in such great shape either), but it’s not the kind of night we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Aldridge. It was fairly evident that the ankle was bothering him throughout the night, something he copped to postgame.
“I feel it,” Aldridge said of his left ankle. “On that one fastbreak I tried to jump off of it and it kind of gave out on me. I’m not really thinking about (the ankle), I just feel it.”
Would Aldridge still be sitting if the Trail Blazers weren’t so short on bodies? He wouldn’t say, but the fact that he couldn’t trust his body on at least one occasion would lead one to believe more than two days away from basketball would do his body good.
But Aldridge doesn’t have that luxury. He knows this team needs him, both from a practical and mental standpoint. He’s the only legitimate post threat the Trail Blazers have, something that is required for the offense to run effectively. When it comes to morale, just having Aldridge in uniform and available to play has value on a team that can’t handle another long-term injury.
So Aldridge isn’t going to take time off unless someone forces his to. And even then he might suit up. It’s a gamble, considering that there’s always the possibility of doing more damage to the ankle, but at this point, the team simply can’t do without him. He may not get the accolades that Brandon Roy gets, but he feels the pressure to lead this team just the same.
“I don’t feel like I’m 100 percent at all,” said Aldridge, “but we’ve been through a lot and I think me at 70 percent might be better than me not playing at all. I just have to play.”