Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) and Golden State’s Monta Ellis(notes) have been playing some of the best basketball of their respective careers over the last week. The only time they didn’t have huge performances during that stretch came when they played against each other.
Aldridge looks to lead the banged-up Trail Blazers to a fourth straight victory Saturday night at Oracle Arena, while Ellis and the Warriors try to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than six weeks.
Portland (15-14) and Golden State met for the first time this season last Saturday at the Rose Garden, with the short-handed Trail Blazers holding on for a 96-95 victory.
Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds, but missed a key jumper with 9.9 seconds to play. That gave the Warriors (10-18) a chance to win it, but Ellis, who finished with 26 points, missed a long jumper with 0.8 seconds left.
Although Aldridge and Ellis each missed clutch shots in that game, they seemingly haven’t missed many others over the past week.
Aldridge finished with 29 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in Monday’s 106-80 win over Milwaukee. He has tied a career high with four straight double-doubles while averaging 29.3 points - 10.2 better than his season average - on 61.8 percent shooting.
His sudden offensive surge could not have come at a better time for the Blazers, who have been without Brandon Roy(notes) (sore knee) in the last three games and centers Marcus Camby(notes) (strained shoulder) and Joel Przybilla(notes) (sprained ankle) in the last two.
Roy is expected to miss another week, and without the three-time All-Star on the court, Aldridge has been more aggressive.
“He’s playing like a monster and that’s what we need him to do,” guard Wesley Matthews(notes) said of Aldridge. “He’s always had it but he’s been deferring a little bit. Now he’s putting the team on his back and carrying us through this stretch.”
Ellis has long been Golden State’s go-to scorer, but he has been particularly impressive lately.
He’s averaging 35.0 points - 9.4 better than his season average - over the last four games while making 9 of 18 from 3-point range. The Warriors have won two of those contests after losing 12 of 13, though they haven’t won two straight since Nov. 8-10.
Ellis scored nine of his 36 points in overtime in Tuesday’s 117-109 victory over Sacramento.
“Monta is just so tough to guard 1-on-1,” center David Lee(notes) said. “In overtime, the bigs usually get tired and they can’t help out as much on him. You more or less get out of his way and let Monta do his thing.”
Good things tend to happen for the Warriors when Ellis takes over games. Golden State is 7-5 when Ellis has more than 26 points, but 3-13 when he is held under his scoring average.
Ellis is averaging 28.2 points in five games against the Blazers since the start of last season, but was limited to 17 points in a 110-105 loss in the last meeting at Oracle Arena on March 11. Roy had 41 points in that game for Portland, which snapped a nine-game losing streak at Golden State.
The Blazers, though, have been struggling on the road, losing three straight and seven of eight.