LaMarcus Aldridge had a huge game for the Portland Trail Blazers, as he exploded for 40 points and eleven rebounds to lead his team to a 99-86 victory over the league's best, San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers improve to 26-22 and keeping the playoff hopes alive, even without several key players. The Spurs meanwhile drop to 40-8, but still top the NBA as the best team.
Alridge's 40 was a career-high for him. After the game, Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich shook Aldridge's hand, something that has never happened to the team's star power forward.
"He never shook my hand before, so I'll take that as a good sign," Aldridge said.
No kidding. Alridge proved that he is an All-Star caliber player, joining other power forwards who have scored 40 points this season, like Kevin Love of the Minneosta Timberwolves and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. Aldridge could not be stopped.
He is so far averaging about 26 points and ten rebounds per game. Popovich says he couldn't find a way to stop him.
"I think we held him to 40," Popovich said chuckling. "I stopped counting after a while.
After Gary Neal sunk a three-pointer, the game was tied at 78 apiece. However, Aldrige and Wesley Matthews would lead the rest of the way, as both hit layups. Then with about three minutes remaining of regulation, Aldridge made the crowd go wild after a sweet bank shot to put the Blazers up 90-80.
It was his night.
"Tonight it just felt good," he said.
Matthews had 21 points in the game. Manu Ginobili led the San Antonio Spurs with 14 points and DeJuan Blair had 14 points and twelve rebounds. The Blazers have been hit hard with injuries, but are surprisingly still over .500 even with losing key players like Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby, and Greg Oden. They even almost lost Nicolas Batum.
"Real good win for this team to beat the best team in the league," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "Those days off I thought really seemed like they helped our guys."
This is a huge win for Portland.
Like the fan at the Rose Garden said, "the Blazers may be depleted, but they aren't defeated! "