Injury lingers for Blazers' Aldridge

Forward is expected to play against the Heat, but he's sore

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

TUALATIN, Ore. -- While most of the Trail Blazers participated in a light day of practice on Tuesday, Nolan Smith and Will Barton both had an assignment in Reno, Nevada, and LaMarcus Aldridge took a visit to a doctor's office.

Aldridge, who has been called the most "consistent" Blazer this season by head coach Terry Stotts, had X-rays taken on his right wrist. The results were negative but confirmed a sprain, according to the team's communications department.

After the diagnosis, Aldridge, who did not participate in practice Tuesday afternoon, has been listed as probable for the Blazers' Thursday night game against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

"It was bothering him," Stotts said of Aldridge's wrist.

Through 32 games, Aldridge has endured many ailments, from his back to his left ankle. As serious as they seemed, those injuries only caused him to miss one game each. This current setback, however, predates the others and yet lingers to test Aldridge's pain threshold.

On Nov. 12 in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks, Aldridge strained his shooting wrist by overextending it on a fall to the court. Although he finished with one of his worst scoring performances of the season (4 for 13 from the field, 14 points), he played more than 36 minutes the following night in Sacramento (5 of 14, 19 points).

A day after the Sacramento game, Aldridge reported some improvement with his wrist: "It's better. It's a little tender still but it's definitely better than what it was (on Nov. 13)."

Now nearly two months later, the persistence of pain has not subsided as first expected.

"It's kinda been bothering him off and on since then," Stotts said.

In spite of the lingering sprain on his shooting hand, Aldridge has averaged 20.6 points and is shooting 46.9 percent from the field. Aldridge also ranks third on the team with 80 assists and has recorded 8.4 rebounds a game -- the second-highest of his career.

"I think L.A. has been our most consistent player at both ends of the floor," Stotts said after a 125-119 overtime win Monday over the Orlando Magic. "Defensively, he doesn't make very many mistakes. He knows the coverages that we're in. He helps defensively. He rebounds. His rebounds -- he's getting rebounds when he's playing alongside a guy who's averaging double figure rebounding (and) he's still getting his rebounds."

Smith, Barton get a chance in D-League

Smith and Barton continued their assignment with the Blazers' NBA Development League affiliate, playing in the Idaho Stampede's 110-100 loss Tuesday to the Canton Charge.

Smith, a 2011 first-round draft pick by the Blazers, has made the most of his D-League days. In two games as the starting Stampede point guard, he has played with a green-light mentality that he has not shown in Portland, taking 44 shots from the field.

To put that in perspective: Smith has attempted just 55 shots in his 18 appearances with the Blazers this year.

On Tuesday, Smith showed aggressiveness in attacking the rim, where he took 11 of his 18 shots, and finished with 17 points. He also chipped in eight rebounds.

Barton, a rookie who has played in two prior Stampede games before the Reno showcase, started at small forward and scored 14 points (4-for-12 shooting).

Stotts said the players would be available for Thursday's Blazers game.

Glickman nominated for Hall of Fame

Harry Glickman, founder of the Trail Blazers organization, has been named to the 2013 class of nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In addition to Tuesday's announcement, Glickman has been nominated for the highest award outside of enshrinement, the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.

Glickman led the charge to bring professional basketball to Portland. In 1970, he founded the franchise, then served in various front-office roles through the Blazers' first 24 years. In its seventh season, Portland won the NBA championship.

Before retiring as team president in 1994, Glickman led the organization's business operations as the team sold out 814 consecutive games, an all-time professional sports record.

The Blazers have seven players and two coaches in the Hall of Fame, as well as former longtime play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely, who was honored with the Curt Gowdy Media Award in 2012.