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LaMarcus Aldridge has had his fair share of monster games this season — going for 28 and 10 in an instant classic against the Indiana Pacers, hanging a career-high 44 points on the Denver Nuggets, putting 38-13-5 on the Oklahoma City Thunder to show that this year's Blazers were for real, a pair of 30-20 games against fellow Western contenders the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, and so on — en route to earning his third straight All-Star berth and advancing recognition of his status as one of the league's best offensive players, even if he's not always considered a top-shelf star. In the midst of a scuffling performance against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, though, the Portland Trail Blazers power forward availed himself of one of the league's truly unique star-status moments: messing with famed Knicks super-fan Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden.
After closing the third quarter with a 19-9 run to take control of Wednesday night's contest, the Blazers went cold in the fourth, allowing the Knicks to come back and draw within two points with 50 seconds left after consecutive 3-pointers by J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. After a Blazers timeout, Portland advanced the ball and went looking for their money man, undeterred by the fact that Aldridge had missed 12 of his 16 shots to that point and was staring down a one-on-one matchup with Knicks center Tyson Chandler.
A couple of dribbles to the left elbow, a quick shudder toward the middle of the lane, a roll back toward his right and a fading jumper with that impossibly high release, and it was all over but the shoutin'. Despite Chandler's best efforts, Aldridge's J extended the Portland lead to four at 91-87 ... and as he backtracked on defense, Aldridge took an extra long look at the director of "Do the Right Thing" and "He Got Game." He didn't give him dap or anything, but he did make sure to catch Spike's eye as he headed back to the huddle, enjoying the game-within-the-game with the Knicks' most recognizable front-row denizen in which only opposing stars get to participate.
So what was up with that, LaMarcus?
LaMarcus @aldridge_12 said Spike Lee was talking about Tyson Chandler "locking him up" which is why he mean mugged after hitting the dagger
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) February 6, 2014
About that "lock-up," Spike ... how'd that work out for you?
Yeah, I'd say so.
Aldridge finished with 15 points on 5 for 17 shooting with 12 rebounds and five assists in the Blazers' 94-90 win over the slumping Knicks. He wasn't the only Blazer to struggle from the field — Terry Stotts' squad shot just 38 percent in the game — but he had help, as swingman Nicolas Batum scored a team-high 20 points on 9 for 14 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and three assists in the win.
Carmelo Anthony had a game-high 26, but needed 28 shots to get there, and went scoreless on five attempts in the fourth quarter as the Knicks lost their third straight game to drop to 19-30 on the season, 2 1/2 games back of the eighth-seeded Charlotte Bobcats in the Eastern Conference playoff race. After the game, coach Mike Woodson seemed to pin at least some of the blame on inconsistent whistles — Portland shot 33 free throws to the Knicks' 20, and while some of that appeared to track with the Blazers doing a better job of attacking the basket than New York, as Woodson saw it, there were a couple of instances where contact on Knicks drives didn't result in trips to the charity stripe. He specifically referenced one no-call on an Anthony drive in the final 30 seconds as "the difference" in the game.
That seems a bit much on a night when the Knicks missed 17 3-pointers and got virtually no offensive contributions from four of their five starters, to say nothing of the defensive work the Blazers turned in to stymy the Knicks and prevent them from getting over the hump in the fourth, but hey, to each their own. On at least one pivotal late-fourth-quarter possession, though, the difference seemed to have less to do with the officiating than with one big man's drive to quiet one little man, if only for a second. Mission accomplished, LaMarcus. Nice job, Spike.
Video via frank den.
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