The Portland Trail Blazers, wounded as ever, pulled off a 108-93 home win over the L.A. Clippers on Thursday night. The Blazers were on the second night of a back-to-back, sweeping both games despite the loss earlier this week of Marcus Camby, the team's starting center.
The team already relied on stud power forward LaMarcus Aldridge a whole lot, but now he's been asked to play center quite a lot, or at least help with center duties as a guy like Dante Cunningham mans the position. But Aldridge has always seemed to do anything Portland has asked of him. Against Blake Griffin and the Clippers, Aldridge had 28 points and eight rebounds. Griffin shot just 6-17 as opponents continue to work to prevent him from assaulting the rim. But he finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds nonetheless.
This game was a peek into the battle All-Star reserve voters, also known as Western Conference coaches, will face in the coming weeks between Aldridge and Griffin. They've both played great, but unless Tim Duncan gets snubbed and depending on how much consideration Kevin Love gets, there's likely only one spot left in the frontcourt. Griffin's been more of a star this season, but Aldridge is one of the few things keeping the 24-20 Blazers afloat. It's a conundrum.
The forwards each had some wonderful backcourt help on Thursday, with Eric Gordon rattling off 35 points, 21 of which came on his 7-11 three-point shooting to keep L.A. in striking distance most of the night. On the other side, Wes Matthews scored 28 points on 10-18 shooting, while Andre Miller had seven assists. Portland's defense on everyone but Gordon was rather good; even without Camby, Portland was able to force L.A. to take shots it didn't want to.
Blazersedge really digs into Portland's defensive gameplan against Griffin and Gordon. Clips Nation reports that the Blazers did as well on Griffin defensively as anyone had in months.