PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers won on Monday in dramatic fashion 98-94. But they may be without something much more important.
For how long, nobody can seem to answer yet.
Three time All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland’s game after injuring his left hand on the play when he forced a turnover by Sacrmento’s DeMarcus Cousins with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
He did not leave the game until 10:26 in the second quarter when he was substituted from the game in favor of Thomas Robinson.
Aldridge did not return after being evaluated by the Blazers team medical staff, and head coach Terry Stotts said that Aldridge was undergoing further testing.
Before the injury, Aldridge was the Blazers’ best player in the game. But the injury forced Stotts to go deep in the bench, playing 12 of 13 available players.
“When a guy’s not able to come back in the game, there’s concern,” Stotts said.
Victor Claver started the second half in Aldridge’s place, which started inauspiciously for the Blazers.
Cousins and his running mate Rudy Gay were dominating. Sacramento bullied Blazers 53-35 in rebounds. And the Kings jumped out to a 15-6 run to start the second half.
There was not a lot of energy in the game but into the void came Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, a pair which breathes energy into the game.
Will Barton got a shot in the second half, too. Many, including Barton himself, had big expectations coming into his third season but he’s barely seen the floor.
In the fourth quarter he got on the board and brought some energy and so did his buddy Thomas Robinson.
Barton scored six points in the fourth quarter and helped breathe life into the Blazers in the second half.
Batum hit a 3-pointer to give the Blazers a one-point lead with 4:45 left to play at 84-83. But the Kings didn’t relent in a game that they had dominated.
In the comeback, the Kings had a five second violation, which wasn’t quite the cherry on top of a turnover filled night. The Kings had a few more left in them.
Matthews hit a jumper to put the Blazers up by two at 89-87 just before the 2 minute mark.
With 1:42 left in the game Robinson drew a crucial offensive foul on Cousins with a little bit of embellishment. It was Cousins’ sixth foul forcing the best player in the game to watch the game’s defining moments, finishing with 22 points and 19 rebounds.
“I just had to play him before he get the ball just make him work,” Robinson said. “Player like that you can’t let him get comfortable on the block.
He didn’t have a great night but Damian Lillard had a little Lillard Time in the tank.
Lillard’s rebound with 1:20 left to get a second chance bucket put the Blazers up 91-89. Batum made a pair of free-throws to push the lead to four in the final minutes.
Lillard then split a pick and roll, made a bee-line for the rim and packed it over the entire Kings team to put Portland up by 3 with 34 seconds left.
“Before I even came off (the screen),” Lillard said “I pretty much made my mind up that he’s going to sprint out here, I’m going to fake like I’m going to go and I’m going to split between them.”
Lillard finished with a team-high 22 points.
The Blazers three missed free-throws in the final 40 seconds, including two from Lillard, but it didn’t matter as the Kings’ crunch time offense came to a halt.
The Kings 27th in the league in offensive turnover percentage but their fourth quarter was even bad by their standards. Portland upped the pressure, forcing eight of their 23 turnovers in the fourth quarter.