LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) has helped the Portland Trail Blazers dominate Atlanta at home. His knee injury might give Greg Oden(notes) a greater role in trying to extend that success as the center plays his first game against the Hawks.
With Aldridge’s status uncertain, the Trail Blazers may have to rely more heavily on Oden for points in the paint as they host the Hawks on Tuesday night.
The Trail Blazers (2-2) have won nine of 10 at home against the Hawks (2-1), holding them to 92.3 points per game during that stretch.
Aldridge averaged 20.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in Portland’s last two games versus Atlanta at the Rose Garden, but he might not play Tuesday after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee Sunday night against Oklahoma City.
Blazers coach Nate McMillan said X-rays were negative, but he has no timetable for the 6-foot-11 forward’s return.
Aldridge averaged a career-high 18.1 points last season, continuing his development after posting 9.0 as a rookie in 2006-07. Portland is hoping for the same amount of improvement from Oden, who averaged 8.9 points as a first-year player last season.
The 7-footer, selected first overall in the 2007 draft, has missed all four of the Blazers’ games against the Hawks over the last two seasons due to various injuries.
Oden is averaging 6.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks this season. If Aldridge can’t go, Oden should get more chances to contribute offensively.
“I think he’s going to get better,” McMillan said. “We’re running some stuff for him … and we’ll learn how to get him the ball.”
Brandon Roy(notes) will likely assume even more of the scoring burden if Oden isn’t effective. The fourth-year guard averaged 30.7 points in his first three games but was held to 16 on 5-of-17 shooting against the Thunder.
Roy didn’t attempt his first free throw until 5:11 remained, but went 5 for 7 at the line the rest of the way.
“I’m maturing and learning the game and saying when you get leads you’ve got to try to build on them by getting to the free-throw line,” said Roy, the 2007 Rookie of the Year. “You don’t have to always shoot jumpers.”
Johnson scored 27 points Sunday night but the Hawks lost 118-110 to the Los Angeles Lakers. Atlanta began the season with relatively easy home wins over Indiana and Washington, but allowed Los Angeles to shoot 52.9 percent.
This will be the second game of a four-game trip for the Hawks, who went 16-25 away from Philips Arena last season.
Smith had 19 points in Atlanta’s 98-80 home win over Portland on March 15, the last meeting between the teams. The Blazers won the clubs’ other matchup last season 108-98 on Feb. 20.