Oakland, Calif. – Early in the third quarter of last night's 103-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge hip-checked Warriors forward David Lee to send him to the line for two.
As Lee was walking away to take his stroll that most NBA players take before they actually shoot their free throws, he and Aldridge were seen jawing back-and-forth at one another.
After the game, Lee gave his version of what was said, sort of.
“I think he (Aldridge) was trying to talk to get himself going a little bit because he missed some shots early,” Lee told CSNNW.com. “But I'm just happy our team came out on top tonight and I'm looking forward to having three more battles with him this year.”
Aldridge was a little more candid when I asked him about their in-game chat. But first he wanted to know what Lee told reporters before he gave his side of the story.
I informed him of the quotes above.
“He took the high road, huh?,” Aldridge asked with a smirk. “It's easy to talk that way when you have a good game. But whatever, he said something that lit my fire that got me going and I was like 'Ok, let's go then.' So the next two possessions on offense I was turned-up, then I lost my energy and went to my normal self,” he said laughing.
Aldridge was playing his second game in as many nights, finishing with only seven points on 3-for-14 shooting to go along with six rebounds. He said he didn't have much in the tank after Thursday night's emotional win over the Miami Heat at the Rose Garden. Lee had the better outing with 24 points (11-for-20 from the field) and 10 rebounds.
It is very likely that only one of these power forwards will make this year's Western Conference All-Star team. Both guys have the numbers and the team success to be included in Houston's three-day event in mid February.
Aldridge is averaging 20.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and shooting 46 percent. Lee is posting 19.8 points a game, 10.8 rebounds and shooting 53 percent from the field.
Other power forwards vying for an All-Star nod are Memphis' Zach Randolph, San Antonio's Tim Duncan, Utah's Al Jefferson, Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol and Oklahoma's Serge Ibaka.
Neither Lee or Aldridge would admit to being aware of the All-Star log-jam at their position and both down-played their matchup last night. Lee felt slighted that he didn't make the team last year and Aldridge made his first last year.
Aldridge had his team in playoff contention and Lee's Warriors were not. This season, the Warriors (23-12) and Trail Blazers (20-16) are currently sitting at the fifth and eighth spot in the Western Conference standings respectively.
Will Lee get in this year?
“A lot of that comes down to politics and at this point, my biggest arguments for myself and Steph [Curry] making it is that our team has won a lot of games and we're going to continue to do that over the next few weeks,” Lee said. “ I think winning is our greatest argument to getting in the game.”
For Aldridge, it's about winning as well. One game is not going to determine his All-Star fate and he says the coaches in this league know his body of work. He gave props to Lee on his game last night.
“He had a good game and made some tough shots. I'm about winning and if we win and I have seven points, I'm fine with that. But he's (Lee) right, I was trying to get myself going,” he said sarcastically.
LaMarcus Aldridge said he tweaked his right ankle last night, but it's not severe enough to where he'll miss time. Just another injury to deal with, he says.