Injured LaMarcus Aldridge to skip Trail Blazers’ trip to Phoenix
Losing LaMarcus Aldridge never is an ideal situation, but the Portland Trail Blazers have fared pretty well without the star big man this season.
Their depth on the front line is part of the reason they’re not panicking now.
Aldridge won’t travel with the Blazers as they look to win in Phoenix for the first time in seven trips and snap the Suns’ overall six-game home winning streak Wednesday night.
Portland (31-11) has gone 3-1 without Aldridge, who suffered a left thumb injury in the second quarter of Monday’s 98-94 win over Sacramento that ended a three-game skid.
X-rays were negative and Aldridge saw a hand specialist Tuesday. Coach Terry Stotts ruled Aldridge out against the Suns (25-18), but it’s unclear if Aldridge, averaging 23.2 points and 10.2 rebounds, will be out longer.
His absence adds to those of fellow big men Robin Lopez (broken right hand) and Joel Freeland (strained left shoulder), leaving the onus down low to fall on Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard, Dorell Wright and Will Barton.
Leonard and Wright scored nine points apiece Monday, Barton added six and Robinson had five and six rebounds.
"There’s no question, that was a gut-check win, a must win," said Wesley Matthews, who finished with 17 points despite hitting 2 of 12 from 3-point range. "Guys stepped up. (Robinson) came in and played big; (Barton) changed the game; D-Wright (and) Meyers came in and made plays for us."
This game, though, could come down to perimeter play. Matthews and Damian Lillard will be tasked with outplaying Phoenix’s guard-heavy lineup as the Blazers look to win a road matchup for the first time since Dec. 10, 2010.
The Suns have won the first three of an eight-game homestand and 13 of 17 overall, a stretch that began after falling to Milwaukee in their most recent home loss Dec. 15. Their six-game run at home is the longest since winning eight in a row March 14-April 13, 2010.
A trio of guards played a prominent role in Monday’s 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, as Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas scored 24 points apiece while Eric Bledsoe finished with 17.
”We are ready to play small basketball when (coach Jeff Hornacek) calls our name and we are all out on the floor together,” said Thomas, who played 30 minutes off the bench. ”I think it is dynamic. You don’t see it around the league and it is something we love doing and hopefully we could do it a little more.”
Thomas hasn’t started this season, and he scored 11 points while shooting 4 of 12 over the previous two games. He hit 9 of 12 from the field Monday.
"When my name’s called, I just try to be as ready as possible," Thomas said.
Gerald Green also is a part of the guard rotation, and he combined with Bledsoe and Dragic to lead the Suns over the Blazers in the last meeting April 4. Green had 32 points, Bledsoe finished with 30 and Dragic added 19 in a 109-93 victory, Phoenix’s fourth in the last five matchups.
Lillard scored 15 and shot 5 of 13, and Matthews finished with nine while going 3 of 9 from the field.