DALLAS – There's no doubt about it, LaMarcus Aldridge loves playing at home. I'm not talking about the Rose Garden, but in American Airlines Center which is located in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
Despite the fact that the Portland Trail Blazers dropped tonight's matchups versus the Mavericks 105-99, Aldridge made sure he showed out in front of friends and family.
Coming into tonight's game, Aldridge was averaging 24.5 points, 10.0 rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the field in two games this season versus the Mavericks. Tonight, the two-time All-Star scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the third quarter, went 11-of-20 shooting from the field and also pulled down 10 rebounds.
“I just like to come back home in front of friends and family, just being back home in the city,” Aldridge said. “It's just fun.”
The Mavericks (21-28) was his childhood NBA team, but he also rooted for the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls, too.
“Everybody picked the Bulls, it was Mike [Jordan],” he said as if he had to explain himself.
Growing up, he attended games at the now defunct Reunion Arena hoping one day that he would get the opportunity to play on the Mavericks home floor. So whenever he steps on this floor or plays against them, he has plans of doing something special.
“I've definitely had dreams of being in this arena,” Aldridge said. “Back when I was young, it was the other arena. It was a lot different. But it's just fun for me.”
Aldridge's two-game winners against the Mavericks in the last two years are still fresh in the minds of Maverick fans. On my way to the arena, my taxi driver was talking about how quiet the city was after Aldridge hit that game-winning fadeaway jumper against the Mavericks back on Jan. 29 at the Rose Garden.
“You didn't hear a thing,” the taxi driver said. “Dead silence.”
For somebody who loves their hometown so much, he sure is having fun giving it to his hometown team every chance he gets.
“It's just fun,” Aldridge said. “Everybody knows my name. I know everybody that works here, all the fans, it's just real comfortable for me. It's like a home game for me. I know people everywhere.”
As for the game itself, the Mavericks withstood some early hot shooting by the Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers (25-24) were up by as many as 12 points in the second quarter until Damian Lillard went out for his usual rest. It was during that time the Mavericks went on a 12-0 run to tie the game at 43. In total, the Mavericks had a 16-6 run while Lillard was out and they were in the game from that point on.
O.J. Mayo came into tonight's game averaging 23.5 points and shooting 8-of-12 from three point range in two games versus the Trail Blazers. That hot streak continued as he went for 28 points on 11-of-14 from the field and was three-of-four from downtown.
Damian Lillard provided 19 points, four rebounds and six assists. Wesley Matthews contributed 18 points and four assists.
JJ Hickson supplied 14 points to go along with 10 boards giving him his 27th double-double of the season.
The Trail Blazers committed a season-high 28 turnovers in their last game versus the Timberwolves, but cleaned things up tonight by way of only six.
“They came up with some rebounds, they made some shots when they needed to and it was a well played game by both teams,” Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said. “But they made the plays when they needed to.”
Seconds before the game ended, Stotts went over to congratulate Rick Carlisle who was on the verge of his 500th career NBA win as a coach.
Having lost tonight, the Trail Blazers are now 1-1 on this trip with the Houston Rockets up next, a team they're trailing by a game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.