LaMarcus Aldridge has been terrorizing the Rockets through two games in their best-of-seven series. The Blazers’ power forward has 89 points in two games and has done it in a variety of ways.
So how can they stop him?
“Give him some bad food,” Dwight Howard joked (we think) after Rockets practice on Thursday afternoon.
And that might be just about the only thing that works. The Rockets’ defense certainly isn’t. In Game 1, Aldridge dominated in the paint. So in Game 2, the Rockets forced him outside. Aldridge settled for drilling contested mid-range jumpers on his way to his second 40-plus-point performance in as many games.
“Hopefully he gets off Krypton and comes back to earth in the next couple of days,” Howard said. “But he’s having a helluva series. That shot, that mid-range shot, is something he’s been doing since I played against him in high school. It hasn’t changed. Give him space, he’s going to knock down that shot.”
The Rockets consistently put hands in Aldridge’s face and Aldridge consistently rose above them to knock down contested shot after contested shot on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Howard admitted some of those tough shots from Aldridge deflated his team.
“I think the biggest thing is when LaMarcus hits a tough fadeaways yesterday, it kind of sucked the air out of a lot of guys,” he said. “It was like ‘oh man, that’s great defense’ but he just shoots it real high and it hits the bottom of the net. So sometimes that takes the air out of you but you have to stay focused through all of that. When a guy has it going like that, you gotta stay confident and understand that this is the playoffs. Each possession is going to count. Like I said, everything has to be positive from here on out.”
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale also admitted that those types of tough contested shots can deflate a team when they fall for the opponent. But he said that’s not what he was concerned about while watching game film on Thursday morning. He said they can live with those tough shots falling.
“The ones that we have to stop are the ones we can’t live with,” McHale said. “Those are the ones you concentrate on.”
Aldridge became the first player to score 40-plus in consecutive playoffs games since LeBron James did it in 2009 with the Cavaliers.
“He’s playing unbelievable right now,” Chandler Parsons said. “He’s hitting some shots and just watching the film back today even. Omer, Dwight, those guys contested a lot of his jump shots – he did get some wide open – but he’s playing great right now. The best thing we can do is try to keep the ball out of his hands. Just try to make it as uncomfortable as possible, be physical with him, deny him the ball. He’s in a rhythm right now that’s unbelievable so we have to figure something out.”
-- Dave Zangaro, CSNHouston.com