Blazers' Aldridge sidelined at least a week with groin injury

Injury to backup center Leonard leaves team thin

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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LaMarcus Aldridge will be sidelined for at least one week with a strained left groin, the Blazers announced on Tuesday. His progress will be evaluated after that week has passed.

The Blazers have four games between Wednesday and next Tuesday.

Reserve center Meyers Leonard will also be out two-to-three weeks with a sprained left ankle.

With Joel Freeland out 3-7 more weeks, that leaves Robin Lopez as the only seven-footer on the active roster.

Aldridge is second in the league in field goal attempts per game, and the Blazers have been very bad when Aldridge is on the bench. They've been outscored by over eight points per 100 possessions without Aldridge, according to NBA.com.

It would appear that Thomas Robinson assumes the starting duties with Victor Claver and Dorell Wright getting some frontcourt minutes off the bench.

In their loss on Feb. 12 against the Clippers, Blazers coach Terry Stotts went with Wright at the power forward spot and Robin Lopez at center.

Before the Aldridge and Leonard injuries were announced, Stotts felt that line-up deserved more of a look.

"I was pleased with the way it worked out in L.A," Stotts said. "I think it's something that, with Joel being out and those 15 minutes and how we handle that with LaMarcus out of the game, gives us a different look."

A different look, at least in the meantime, will be the standard as the Blazers wait for their bigs to mend.

Without Aldridge, the other Blazers will have to make up for 37 minutes and 21 shots per game.

Before the Aldridge announcement, the Blazers returned returned to the practice court with vigor and a refreshed mindset.

Nobody was busier than Damian Lillard.

Lillard says that it was in a good way, however, without having to be locked in and ready to get to business on a nightly basis during the season.

There was still room for learning moments, and things to learn by rubbing shoulders with the best the NBA has to offer.

The player that Lillard learned the most from, specifically from a leadership standpoint was a player who didn't play in the All-Star game: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Kobe (stood out) more than anybody else because he didn't play," Lillard said. "He was constantly talking to guys in the huddle. He was explaining stuff to me going on out on the court, situational stuff like that."

Lillard grew up idolizing Bryant, especially when his hometown Warriors weren't playing in big playoff games and Bryant's Lakers were.

"It meant a lot," he said of being able to learn from one of his idols. "I respect he's opinion. He's a champion. A lot of people might dislike what he says at times but he's a champion. We play this game to be champs and that's why I took everything he said with me to heart."

Raise in ticket prices, other changes

The Blazers told media on Tuesday that they will be increasing season tickets by a total of 5 percent next season.

Some tickets have gone up as much as 50 percent while others have dropped as much as 22 percent.

The Blazers will also open an restaurant on game and event nights outside of the Moda Center, beginning with the March 3rd game against the Lakers.