Wolves, Blazers Clash for Second Time This Season
Posted Nov 14 2006 11:55AM
With one rookie sidelined by injury for possibly two weeks, the Portland Trail Blazers hope another first-year player can help fill the void.
LaMarcus Aldridge looks to build on a strong NBA debut when the Trail Blazers open a four-game road trip against the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.
Portland's Brandon Roy has arguably been the league's best rookie through the first two weeks of the season, averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in five games. Roy, however, was limited to seven minutes in a 92-91 victory over New Orleans on Friday and sat out Sunday's 103-96 loss to Dallas with pain in his left heel.
Doctors hope an orthopedic boot will help Roy - the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft - avoid surgery, but he will miss up to two weeks. Roy will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and if the swelling has subsided, could begin to rehabilitate the heel and perhaps start doing some cardiovascular work.
``I don't have to sleep with it, but everything else, even if I'm just sitting around the house, I have to keep it on,'' Roy said of the boot.
While Roy wasn't available Sunday, Aldridge - the second pick in the 2006 draft - made his debut after a shoulder injury kept him out of the preseason and first six games. The 6-foot-11 Aldridge didn't make much of an impact in the first half, but scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter and finished 5-of-9 from the field with eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
``We were all pleased with how LaMarcus Aldridge played,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. ``He played with a lot of energy and a lot of bounce to him. It was nice to see him out there. He had to free-lance a bit because he's never practiced with us this fall in a five-on-five. But he knows how to play. He has really good instincts and a lot of length. He's going to help us as we mature as a team.''
Aldridge said he thought he might struggle in his NBA debut and was surprised that he played the entire fourth quarter.
``I didn't think I'd be in there during crunch time,'' he said. ``The first time I went in I shook off my butterflies. The crowd motivated me and gave me confidence. I thought I was going to struggle, but I did well.''
Aldridge helped the Blazers (4-3) mount a late comeback as they trimmed a 15-point deficit to one with 2:21 to play, but Dallas sealed the win with a 9-2 run.
Zach Randolph and Jarrett Jack each scored 20 points for Portland, which fell behind early by double digits for the second straight game and fourth time this season.
``The biggest thing we have to look at is, we are getting off to the slow starts,'' McMillan said. ``We gotta do a better job of starting the game.''
Roy wasn't the only one missing from Sunday's lineup for the Blazers. Center Joel Przybilla and forwards Raef LaFrentz and Darius Miles are all sidelined with injuries, and only Przybilla could return Tuesday.
Minnesota began this season with consecutive wins, but has since lost four straight, including a 109-98 home defeat to Orlando on Saturday.
Kevin Garnett had a season-high 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who entered the game averaging just over 85 points in their last three contests and missed 20 of their first 26 shots against the Magic.
``I don't think confidence is a problem,'' Garnett said. ``Being consistent for 48 minutes is the big question. Consistency is the big word here.''
Minnesota has also been guilty of slow starts, trailing by an average of 6.3 points after the first quarter in the past three games.
Juan Dixon's 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left lifted the Blazers to an 88-86 home victory over the Wolves on Nov. 4. Portland has won three straight in the series after losing the previous six meetings.
Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited