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Aldridge to miss Phoenix game, long-term status unknown

Blazers say X-Rays on forward's hand came back negative

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: January 20, 2015, 4:00pm

TUALATIN, Ore. — X-rays came back negative on the left hand of Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. That was the good news.

But the Blazers must wait a little longer to find out how long they will be without their foundation and three-time All-Star. Aldridge did not fly south with the Blazers Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

“(It’s) better than the alternative,” head coach Terry Stotts said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ll see what happens. I don’t want to rush to judgement on anything right now.”

Aldridge saw a hand specialist Tuesday after leaving Monday’s 98-94 win over the Kings in the second quarter which resulted in no timeline for his return, according to the team. He still has an MRI scan set for later in the week after which he will be re-evaluated.

Damian Lillard saw Aldridge as positive when he saw him earlier on Tuesday.

“I said what’s up to him,” Lillard said. “He wasn’t down or anything like that. He was positive, he was laughing. That let me know enough right there.”

The Blazers, 31-11 and in second place in the Western Conference, are staying positive as they can be with the status of their All-Star still being in doubt.

“We were really, really blessed last season,” Blazers guard Wesley Matthews said. “We got really lucky last year with the amount of injuries that we didn’t have. It’s part of the game unfortunately. We’re just trying to weather the storm right now.

The Suns play one of the league’s most unconventional styles and currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Basically, everybody on the team has the green light to shoot and they play small. Only one other team plays averages more possessions per 48 minutes.

But Matthews, who believes as much as anybody in the concept of “next man up,” shot down any notion that this is a good match-up for the Blazers without Aldridge.

“It never helps having one of the best players in the NBA not in your lineup,” Matthews said. ” It doesn’t matter how they play. It’s about us, it’s about what we do. LA in the lineup is a match-up problem for them. With LA out of the lineup it’s definitely beneficial to Phoenix.”

The Suns were a major pain for the Blazers last season. Phoenix won the season series 3-1, which included blowing the Blazers out in the first game of the season. Over the season, the Suns lost a weapon in Channing Frye but they added dynamic point guard Isaiah Thomas.

“Channing Frye killed us,” Lillard said. “Those pick and rolls with him making those 3’s really gave us trouble. It will be a little bit different.”

Over the past week, the Suns traded for center Brandan Wright to help solidify the middle, giving them a dynamic pick-and-roll threat on their second unit. Second year Ukrainian big man Alex Len has made huge strides after barely seeing the court his rookie year.

The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, have both extended their range to beyond the 3-point line.

“The Morris twins, they can shoot the ball as well,” Lillard said. “It will be a similar challenge as it was last year especially without LA.”

Columbian Trail Blazers Writer