LaMarcus Aldridge says his sprained right ankle is feeling better and he will play against the Houston Rockets on Friday night, as he told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian after practice on Thursday. Aldridge missed four games due to the injury he suffered against the Brooklyn Nets on March 27, and the team lost by 10+ points in each of those contests. A six-game losing streak by the Portland has pushed the team out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, but Aldridge wants to get back on the court to help the team finish the year on a positive note (via OregonLive.com):
"I feel better," Aldridge said. "I went through practice today and (my ankle) was a little tender, but definitely something I can deal with. So I'm going to go [Friday]."
"This is carrying over for next year. We have a lot of things to look forward to. We're a young group and ... we all just need to keep working at it and take advantage of these games to get better."
The 6'11 forward has averaged 21.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting to go with 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks over 37.8 minutes per game in 69 contests this season. He is in the third year of a five-year, $62.5 million contract extension. His return to the lineup makes Portland a dangerous opponent for Houston on Friday, as noted by Dave of Blazer's Edge in the game preview:
The Blazers have a couple sparks of hope tonight. Aldridge's return should buoy his teammates even if Nicolas Batum bows out. Portland's three-point shooters could get a nice workout. If the Rockets oblige by turning over the ball the Blazers could even negate that Grand Canyon of a fast-break disparity (2nd vs. 26th teams in the league). But Houston's great rebounding will likely make Portland's scanty paint production even scantier. If J.J. Hickson can dive on Asik and Aldridge can wheel on Smith the Blazers might be able to scare up some close buckets. If those points of attack fail no amount of jump shooting will be enough.
The Blazers (33-42) are currently in 11th place in the Western Conference standings.