Hickson: ‘I took it upon myself to be more aggressive’
By sarahhecht Posted in: j.j.hickson
If you’re looking for a bright spot from Portland’s 95-87 loss to the Atlanta Hawks then look no further than J.J. Hickson.
Trail Blazers fans know what he’s capable of—we saw much of it at the end of last season—but at the end of the game against the Spurs on Saturday and again tonight we’ve seen a Hickson with a new edge.
Tonight he was the energy guy and it showed in the boxscore. He set season highs in both points (19) and rebounds (18)—the first time in his career he’s scored at least 19 points and had 18 rebounds in a game. He also recorded another double-double, his team-leading fourth of the season.
So why the sudden and obvious change? He’s found his role with the team.
“I just wanted to come out and be physical. I know I’m the only guy on this team that plays the way I play so I took it upon myself and I’m gonna take it upon myself to play the way I played tonight,” Hickson said. “I took it upon myself to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive boards and just do what a traditional center is supposed to do.”
And that he did. Head Coach Terry Stotts said after the game that without Hickson’s stellar play the team wouldn’t have been able to keep tonight’s game as close as it was. A fact also recognized by team leader LaMarcus Aldridge, “His role and what we need him to do is really cause havoc out there crashing the boards, taking advantage of the slower five man,” he said. “I thought tonight he did that, he caused havoc, he offensive rebounded, he made big baskets for us.”
So is this new J.J. one who Trail Blazers fans can look forward to watching night in and night out? He says absolutely and went as far as describing what he intends to bring to the court.
“A hustler. A guy that’s not gonna take a play off, not saying that our guys do, but just a guy that you know I’m out there,” Hickson said. “I’m gonna be talking, I’m gonna be everywhere on the court. I’m not really worried about points, I’m just looking to rebound and block shots and defend and do what a traditional center does since that’s my position on this team.”