Marcus Camby(notes) and Brandon Roy(notes) aren’t quite ready to return from arthroscopic knee surgery, leaving the Portland Trail Blazers waiting once again on their defensive anchor and their three-time All-Star guard.
Coming off a career-best 42-point performance, Aldridge looks to stay hot as the visiting Trail Blazers try to hand the Toronto Raptors a 16th loss in 17 games Friday night.
Roy and Camby returned to practice Wednesday after both underwent surgery last month, an encouraging sign for Portland (28-24) as it battles for playoff position in the Western Conference.
Neither will be on the court Friday - Roy had initially targeted this game to be back in uniform - but both could play before the All-Star break. Coach Nate McMillan plans to be cautious with the two players, particularly Roy, who has been dogged by knee injuries the past two seasons.
“I feel good but at the same time I understand where (McMillan) is coming from,” Roy said of his return being pushed back. “He wants me to feel great.”
McMillan is certainly feeling great about the way Aldridge has played since Roy went down. He’s averaged 25.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in leading Portland to a 16-10 record, and he’s delivered two defining efforts this month.
Aldridge scored a then-career-high 40 points in a 99-86 win over San Antonio on Feb. 1, perhaps making a final push to be named to the West All-Star team. He wasn’t picked when the reserves were announced three days later, and appeared to take a personal affront to being left out Monday against Chicago.
Aldridge scored 28 of his 42 points after halftime in a 109-103 victory.
“Me getting 42 tonight isn’t going to change their mind, so what is it going to do for me?” Aldridge said.
Aldridge had 22 points and 10 boards in a 97-84 home win over the Raptors (14-39) on Nov. 6, while Roy led the way with 26.
That was part of a 1-7 start for Toronto, which seems like a mild slump compared to its current slide. The Raptors led NBA-best San Antonio by three heading into the fourth quarter Wednesday but fell 111-100, their 15th loss in 16 games.
Toronto allows a league-high 48.0 points per game in the paint and the Spurs ripped them for 70, which bodes well for Aldridge and the Blazers. When they score 42 or more inside, they’re 18-7.
To make matters worse for the Raptors, big man Amir Johnson(notes) might be a bit banged up after spraining his ankle early in Wednesday’s game. He returned, however, and is averaging 15.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in his last seven games.
Andrea Bargnani(notes) has emerged from his recent funk to average 27.3 points in his last three games, but he might not be too happy to see Portland. His 9.0 average against the Blazers is his worst versus any opponent.