If you were among the non-believers before Tuesday night, Portland's star power forward gave you five All-Star worthy seconds to change your mind. And if you didn't at least consider doing so, you might be delusional.
Aldridge almost single-handedly capped the Blazers' comeback from a 21-point third-quarter deficit -- Ronnie Price's defense on a charge call was huge, too -- by scoring five points in the final 4.9 seconds to give Portland a 106-104 victory over Dallas at home.
It was the type of clutch, give-me-the-ball-and-I'll-win-the-game sequence that typically defines the NBA's best, so if his statistics this season (20.7 points, 8.9 rebounds) weren't already enough to convince you that he's a bona fide All-Star, Tuesday's performance surely should be.
With the Blazers down 104-101 after a Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds left, Aldridge wound up with the ball on a called play for Nicolas Batum, who was bottled up behind the 3-point line and passed to Aldridge. The power forward received the ball, looked down, saw that he was in front of the 3-point line, took a step back and drained a rare triple to tie the score with 4.9 seconds remaining.
At the other end, Price drew a charge on O.J. Mayo, setting up a chance to win for Portland. Wesley Matthews inbounded to Aldridge, who nailed a turnaround, fadeaway jumper before the buzzer for the victory.
In case the stats and the clutch play aren't enough to convince you of Aldridge's All-Star worth, consider that he is the leader of a Blazers team that holds a surprising 23-22 record in what was supposed to have been a rebuilding season. Instead, at the halfway point, Portland is a legitimate playoff contender.
Worthy players are snubbed and left off the All-Star team every year, and that's just the nature of the beast, particularly as long as a popularity contest continues to determine the starting five. But Aldridge is undoubtedly worthy of this, his second consecutive trip to the All-Star game, as Blazers fans and anyone who's watched him consistently will tell you with conviction.
Teammates too, of course, and Nicolas Batum told reporters as much after Tuesday's win.
"We needed those two shots," Batum said of Aldridge's 3-pointer and game-winner. "They show people that he really is an All-Star. He is an All-Star. He's a go-to guy."
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
- Nicolas Batum