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Blazers Notebook: Aldridge’s overlooked defense

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer, and
Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: January 14, 2015, 4:00pm

PORTLAND — Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge hardly needs an All-Star campaign anymore.

After years of excellence, most agree that he is one of the league’s best power forwards.

Aldridge’s scoring prowess was on display Wednesday as he scored 37 points in a 100-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But if you ask his coach, one aspect of his game has been overlooked.

“I think LaMarcus has been extremely undervalued as a defender,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. He is probably our most vocal defender in pick and rolls. He understands coverages, he understands personnel.”

The Blazers have had the league’s second best defense in the league measured in points per 100 possessions since starting center Robin Lopez broke his hand on Dec. 15, according to NBA.com.

The only constant in the middle has been Aldridge, whose versatility allows the Blazers to put him on point guards in pick and rolls as well as have another defensive anchor when called upon.

“He has an effect on the rim.” Stotts said of Aldridge. “He comes up with big defensive rebounds. I think what he gives us defensively is sometimes overlooked.”

Wednesday, Aldridge had 12 rebounds. The Blazers allowed 10 points in the paint, not counting fast-break points.

Point guards aplenty

Clippers coach Doc Rivers knows a few things about point guards.

Besides being an all-star himself during a 14-year NBA career, he coaches one of the game’s best in Chris Paul.

So it was not hollow praise when Rivers lauded Damian Lillard as one of the NBA’s elite.

“I don’t think he’s making a name for himself. He already has,” Rivers said. “Doesn’t he have a shoe coming out? That’s impressive. I never had a shoe.”

Rivers said the NBA is in a golden age of point guards.

Besides Paul and Lillard, he cited Rajon Rondo of Dallas and Kyrie Irving of Cleveland.

“We were talking six or seven years ago about, ‘Where are all the point guards?'” Rivers said. ‘Well that has been answered. I don’t know if there’s been a more point-guard rich environment in the NBA. And they’re all different.”

Paul got the better of the matchup with 23 points and 10 assists to Lillard’s 15 points and four assists.

Tip-ins

• With 11 points and 10 rebounds, Meyers Leonard recorded his second double-double of the season and third of his career.

• Aldridge and Chris Kaman also had double-doubles, marking the first time three Blazers did that this season.

• With two 3-pointers Wednesday, Wesley Matthews is two behind Terry Porter’s franchise record of 773.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer