The Portland Trail Blazers' seven-game road trip got off to a rough start shortly before it began, with the news that star forward LaMarcus Aldridge was going to sit out Sunday's game at Brooklyn with a stiff back.
Aldridge apparently "dinged up" his back during Friday night's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, although he has said he expects to play in Monday's game against the Pistons in Detroit.
Without Aldridge on Sunday, rookie Meyers Leonard moved into the starting lineup at center, with J.J. Hickson sliding over to power forward, a position that's more natural for him, anyway. But Portland fell 98-85 to Brooklyn, despite Hickson's 19 points and 10 rebounds and a team-high 20 points from Wesley Matthews.
Former Blazer Gerald Wallace had a quiet game offensively, scoring just two points on 1-of-8 field-goal shooting. But Joe Johnson scored 21 points for the Nets, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez had 15 apiece and Kris Humphries added 14. In addition, Andray Blatche scored 13 points off the bench, a higher total, combined, than all seven of the Portland reserves who logged minutes.
Brooklyn's bench outscored Portland's 31-9.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts is, however, slowly getting his reserves more involved in games, with four players seeing double-digits in minutes on Sunday. But Stotts is still leaning pretty heavily on his starters, as Nicolas Batum played 38 minutes and Matthews 37. Leonard was the only starter who wasn't in at least 30 minutes, and he played 29.
We should find out soon whether all that playing time, night in and night out, is going to take a toll on Portland's first unit. Monday's game against the Pistons is the second of a seven-game road trip that continues Wednesday at Washington and moves to Boston on Friday.
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.
- Sports & Recreation
- Portland Trail Blazers
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Meyers Leonard