The jaw-dropping performances are coming so frequently, so effortlessly and so monumentally, Robin Lopez has given up trying to forecast what might happen next. Instead, he’s decided to just hop aboard the L-Train, sit back and enjoy the ride. “LA’s been playing at one hell of a level,” Lopez said, referring to LaMarcus Aldridge. “I know it’s only 20-something games in, but that’s a long time to be playing this way. You thought the apex was going to be the OKC game and then he comes with a game like this. I don’t want to predict what’s ahead, because I just don’t know what’s going to happen.” With MVP chants echoing around the Moda Center at random intervals and a national TNT television audience gushing at home, Aldridge delivered another MVP-like performance Thursday night, leading the Trail Blazers to another impressive victory, 111-104, over the Houston Rockets before a sellout crowd of 19,997. The two-time All-Star finished with 31 points, a career-high 25 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists, while making 14 of 22 shots. It was one of the best individual performances in the NBA this season, one of the most dominant outings of Aldridge’s career, and it continued a 23-game run of brilliance for a player who is, quite simply, playing the best basketball of his NBA career. “He’s the MVP, man — he’s playing at a crazy-high level right now,” Wesley Matthews said, before adding. “He’s the best power forward in the NBA.” The monster outing was both historic and clutch. Aldridge became the first player in franchise history and first in the NBA since Kevin Love in 2010 to record a 30-point, 25-rebound game. And he became the first player in the NBA to finish with at least 30 points, 25 rebounds and two blocks since Chris Weber in 2001. And most of the damage — 25 points and 15 rebounds — came in the second half, when the Blazers were fighting tooth and nail to outlast the high-octane Rockets (15-8), who entered the game featuring the NBA’s highest-scoring offense. The victory continued the Blazers’ unlikely feel-good season, improving their record to 19-4, and ensured their best start through 23 games since the 1990-91 season, when they opened 21-2. To be sure, Aldridge had plenty of help. Lopez finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, notching his career-high 10th double-double of the season. Nicolas Batum (15 points, six assists, six rebounds, two blocks), Matthews (18 points) and Mo Williams (13 points, four assists) more than made up for an off night from Damian Lillard (eight points, six assists, 1-for-10 shooting).
LaMarcus Aldridge continues MVP-like play, Trail Blazers continue winning ways
Oregonian | Dec 13