About three hours before tipoff at the Moda Center, the NBA released results of fan voting for the NBA All-Star game during a live program on TNT before its weekly Thursday night double-header. And despite racking up gaudy statistics for one of the Western Conference’s best teams, Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was snubbed in favor of Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. As expected, despite his MVP-like credentials, Aldridge was ignored. He wouldn't be ignored for long. With an incredible individual performance before a national TNT audience, Aldridge had a career night in leading the Blazers to a come-from-behind 110-105 victory before a sellout crowd. In a dominant and clutch effort that prevented the Blazers from suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season, Aldridge recorded a career-high 44 points and added 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He made 15 of 29 shots, 14 of 17 free throws — many coming in critical possessions down the stretch of a nip-and-tuck game — and he did it all with “MVP” chants echoing around the Moda Center. “They really didn’t have an answer for him,” Damian Lillard said. At halftime, in an interview with local media, Blazers owner Paul Allen gushed about his prized player, saying he was in the middle of his best year. He bragged about Aldridge’s rebounding. He boasted about his scoring. He praised his leadership. “If you watch him out there, he’s so engaged in the games,” Allen said of Aldridge. “And he’s taken on more of a leadership role. So I think it’s evident in all aspects of his game.” It certainly was Thursday night. Aldridge did it all against the Nuggets. He swished his bread-and-butter midrange jumpers. He finished fast-break layups in transition. He dominated helpless Denver post defenders on the block. He blocked shots, handed out assists and chased down rebounds with a fearless pursuit that Rip City hadn’t seen until this season. And throughout it all, he was clutch. One game after missing his final seven shots and committing two costly turnovers down the stretch in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Aldridge carried the Blazers to a win Thursday night. He scored 30 points in the second half, including 15 in the decisive fourth quarter. When the Nuggets were nipping at the Blazers’ heels late in the game, Aldridge did just enough to keep them at bay.
LaMarcus Aldridge's career night propels Trail Blazers to win over Denver Nuggets
Oregonian | Jan 24