OKC Thunder: Thunder looking forward to rematch with Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge had a big game the first time the Western Conference powers met, leading to a 111-104 Portland victory.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 30, 2013


photo - Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, right, backs in on Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, right, backs in on Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

He made 17 of 28 field goal attempts.

He added a game-high 13 rebounds and chipped in five assists.

“He had one of the best games against us all year,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

The crazy thing is it wasn't even Aldridge's best scoring night against the Thunder.

Back on Feb. 6, 2012, Aldridge erupted for 39 points. But it's become a distant memory since OKC won by four, setting in motion a streak of seven straight Thunder wins over the Blazers before Portland's victory earlier this month.

Now that he's taken his game to another level this season — his 23.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals are all career highs — the question is whether there is anything the Thunder can do to stop Aldridge.

In the first meeting, Oklahoma City threw three defenders at him. Serge Ibaka got the start. Perkins switched over at halftime. Rookie center Steven Adams even got a few tastes.

None of it worked.

The Thunder tried to keep the ball out of Aldridge's hands, but OKC never sent a hard double team his way. With the Blazers leading the league in 3-point field goal percentage, doubling Aldridge could leave highly capable shooters free on the perimeter and quickly backfire.

“You don't change nothing,” Perkins said, rather defiantly.

Might sound strange, but Perk could have a point.

On that night in early December, Aldridge was simply hot.

He went 10 of 14 on jump shots between 16 and 24 feet. Many of them were tough, contested fadeaways, or long 2-pointers that the Thunder prefers.

“He's playing at a high level right now, but he's going to have to show us that he can hit them all night,” Perkins said. “We're not going to change too much on what we do.”

We'll soon see how it works out.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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