LaMarcus Aldridge Garnering Support for All-Star Bid
"He did?'' Aldridge said. "Oh, wow.''
That's what the Nuggets coach said. And Karl's vote hardly looks outrageous when considering what Aldridge has done lately.
After totaling 18 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 109-90 loss to Denver at the Pepsi Center, Aldridge has averaged 24.7 points and 9.9 rebounds over his past 24 games. That includes 40 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday against San Antonio in a final push to show Western Conference coaches, who vote on the reserves, he deserves a spot in the Feb. 20 game in Los Angeles.
Votes by coaches are due Thursday morning, and the reserves will be announced later in the day. The West is loaded, and it could come down to whether coaches give more credence to a team's record or statistics.
Minnesota forward Kevin Love (21.4 points, 15.5 rebounds) and Clippers forward Blake Griffin (23.0, 12.7) both have better numbers than Aldridge (21.3, 9.0). But the Timberwolves (11-37) and the Clippers (19-29) have crummy marks while the Trail Blazers are 26-23.
"They're good players but I don't think you should put guys on the All-Star team with losing records,'' said Portland guard Andre Miller, who believes Aldridge should be an All-Star and Love and Griffin shouldn't be. "I don't. I don't think you reward guys ... when their team is having a losing season.
"Those guys are good players but LaMarcus is on a winning team and he has more experience, and you should give him the benefit of the doubt. When you're five years in the league and those guys have one or two years in the league (Love is a third-year man and Griffin a rookie), they'll get the opportunity a couple of years down the line.''
In the meantime, Aldridge said a couple of weeks ago he bought a ticket to go to his home area of Dallas during All-Star Weekend. But the chances of having to cancel that ticket been growing each day since getting his e-mail confirmation from American Airlines.
"If I make the game, I think that will be the least of my worries,'' said Aldridge, who isn't sure of the refundable status of his ticket.
Aldridge said in a Jan. 20 interview on TNT he didn't think he would make the All-Star team, and he's been repeating that ever since. Aldridge was asked before Wednesday's game why he feels that way.
"Just because I've been in this position the last few years,'' Aldridge said. "Probably not as much as this year. But I've been in this point the last few years. Right there on the edge and not making (the All-Star Game). So that's just how I feel.''
Of course, that was how Aldridge felt before he knew Karl had voted for him. He really perked up when told that in a later interview.
"For real?'' Aldridge said.
It came straight from Karl's mouth. While he wouldn't reveal any of his other votes, he raved about Aldridge's showing against the Spurs.
"I said to someone this morning, 'Who's had a more dominant performance (this season) for a big man from the standpoint of offense?''' Karl said. "(Orlando's) Dwight Howard beats you up with 20 rebounds. But against a big-time team (San Antonio) and they've got to win games. He was courageous. He was physical. He was a rebounder. He was a shooter. He was a defender.''
Sounds like pretty good ingredients for an All-Star.
"Yes,'' said Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, when asked if he'd be disappointed if Aldridge isn't named to the team. "There's a lot of guys. But I think if the coaches vote and they look not only at his numbers but what this team has done, the record, he deserves to be there.''
McMillan said he's had several coaches tell him they will vote for Aldridge in a Western Conference overloaded with fine big men. At least there will be one additional spot open due to starting center Houston's Yao Ming being out with a foot injury and needing to be replaced by NBA commissioner David Stern. The starting forwards will be Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Denver's Carmelo Anthony.
After that, there are six top candidates vying for what are likely to be five more frontcourt spots. In addition to Griffin and Love, they are Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and the Lakers' Pau Gasol, who look to be locks, and San Antonio's Tim Duncan. While the Spurs are an NBA-best 40-8, Aldridge sure helped himself against Duncan, who had 15 points and seven rebounds Tuesday.
Aldridge has been helping himself lately against a lot of people. McMillan said one reason has been Aldridge becoming more of an inside presence with Portland needing that due to Greg Oden being out all season due to a knee injury.
Also, center Marcus Camby has been out since Jan. 17 following knee surgery, with opinions differing as to when he will return. McMillan said Camby is out "a few more weeks.'' Camby disagreed, saying his return is "just around the corner.''
But back to Aldridge. He doesn't have an explanation on what's gotten into him lately.
"Something just clicked,'' Aldridge said. "I really can't explain it. ... If I knew the answer, I would definitely give it to you. I don't have the answer.''
At least Karl had an answer when asked if he voted for Aldridge.