Portland, OR, United States (4E Sports) – Already considered a top-five power forward, many wonder if Portland Trail Blazers’ two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge could also be the best player on a contender.
Damian Lillard may also stake a claim to that distinction as far as the Blazers (29-9) are concerned.
But Aldridge solidified his claim by finishing with 32 points and 18 rebounds, his 22nd double-double of the season, to fuel the Blazers in a 108-96 drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He also scored nine in the last 3:17 of Wednesday’s game at Moda Center, including his first 3-pointer of the season, as the Blazers finished off the Cavs.
Just like a typical Blazers game in what is turning out to be a break out season, Aldridge got the biggest help from Damian Lillard who added 28 points.
For the Cavs, it was a good gauge as to how much they improved following the acquisition of Luol Deng who led them for the second consecutive game with 25 points.
Aldridge was relatively quiet in the first half, hitting just five of 13 shots from the floor for 13 points and six rebounds.
The Cavs took a 38-30 lead in the second quarter before the Blazers tied it at 46 on Lillard’s consecutive 3-pointers.
The Blazers pulled in front 49-48 on another 3 from Lillard and led 54-50 at the break.
It was Aldridge’s turnaround jumper at end of the third that gave the Blazers a 77-75 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Down 94-93 with 3:44 to go, Aldridge made his first 3-pointer of the season to give Portland back the lead.
Anderson Varejao’s tip tied it at 96 before Aldridge answered with pair of free throws, a 19-foot jumper and a layup that made it 102-96.
The Blazers added consecutive 3-pointers from Wesley Matthews and Lillard for the final margin.