LA: Woke up back contusion
LaMarcus Aldridge arrived at his locker later than usual Sunday night after the Trail Blazers 105-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Not basking in glory by taking an extra long shower, or sitting in the steam room like Meyers Leonard chose to do to end a game after returning from a 5-game road trip, but for taking the proper precautions for an ailing lower back injury that had fans and media members alike buzzing, like the British paparazzi trying to catch a glimpse of the royal baby.
One media member asked the Blazers PR staff when Aldridge would talk. The PR rep granted the media member permission to summon Aldridge from the shower and instruct him to hurry it along if he wished.
Aldridge appeared moments later, having overheard the mumblings that he was taking longer than usual.
“People wouldn’t want me to rush taking care of my body first, would they? Aldridge said smugly. “Knowing that I was icing my back…”
Aldridge scored 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting in his return to the Moda Center for the first time since hurting his back, which sidelined the All-Star for seven games.
But, no matter how good Aldridge looked Sunday night, as the Trail Blazers gained a game in the Western Conference standings over the Warriors and Suns as the fifth seed, his spill late in the fourth quarter, which left Aldridge slow to get up and in noticeable pain after hitting his lower back once more, had Trail Blazers fans grimacing and fearful that Aldridge could have done damage that could keep him from action.
“I’m a little sore, definitely,” Aldridge said after the game. “I woke up my little contusion, but I’m ok.”
Aldridge went on to say that he believes he could have played more than the 33 minutes that coach Stotts had him in for.
Certainly, Aldridge and the Trail Blazers training staff are not messing around when it comes to handling his ailing back. Unable to walk, sleep, be comfortable for a long time after the injury, Aldridge who admitted during his time away from the court, would take all of the necessary steps to ensure that when he returned, he would do everything to ensure there would be no setbacks because of something he did and subsequently didn’t do.
“LA being back makes a big difference for everybody,” Coach Stotts said postgame, saying he wishes the play where Aldridge came up slow should have been a foul. “When LA misses seven games, it’s hard to settle into a rotation. When LA was out, we had to patch things together.”
It’s no secret how much of an impact Aldridge has when he is on the court. He opens things up, allows the Blazers to spread the floor, and the each player’s games harmonizes with the offense that coach Stotts has designed.
Aldridge described his recovery routine as “a lot of things”, and that he will listen to his body to make sure he can fully push through this final stretch of the regular season, but admits that his competitive drive fuels him to be on the floor with his teammates.
The Blazers travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Tuesday night.