Aldridge (back) returning tonight against the Hawks

Aldridge (back) returning tonight against the Hawks
March 27, 2014, 9:15 am
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LA's back from his back: "I'll go tonight"

(Craig Mitchelldyer | USA Today Sports Images)

ATLANTA– After sitting out the last seven games, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge says he will return to the starting lineup tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.

“I’m going,” Aldridge said after shootaround Thursday. “We’ll see how it goes, but I’m going.”

Aldridge went through a workout in Atlanta on Wednesday that consisted of a few big men to get him prepared for tonight. According to the three-time All-Star, they played some basketball and went up and down a little bit.

Running was one of the main obstacles preventing him from coming back sooner, saying it caused him serious discomfort. Though he’s still nowhere near 100 percent and “sore” when it comes to moving up and down the court, he’ll be in uniform.

“It’s (running) still not normal but hopefully by tonight, I’ll be used to it or I’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll see what happens tonight or how I’ll look.”

Head coach Terry Stotts wouldn’t divulge how much he plans to use Aldridge tonight, but he did say his forward got progressively better during yesterday’s workout and that’s encouraging.

“I thought he looked good yesterday. I think he got better as we played three-on-three and I thought as the games went on, he looked more and more comfortable.”

The team is 3-4 in his absence with the back injury and they have dropped three in a row. There’s no doubt about it that Portland needs him back in the mix if they’re going to finish out the year strong.

And a hurting Aldridge knows that.

“It's just me wanting to play again,” Aldridge said. “We’ve got 10 games left and the way we are in the standings, definitely makes me want to come back faster and try to get things back on track. So that has a part in it. But again, we’ve tried to treat my back every way possible. So it’s time to see how it is.”

In 60 appearances this season, Aldridge is averaging a career-highs points (23.4), rebounds (11.1) and assists (2.7) in 36.5 minutes a game.