The Portland Trail Blazers were dealt some tough injury news on the eve of their first game since the All-Star break: Both LaMarcus Aldridge and Meyers Leonard will miss upcoming games due to injury.
Aldridge, who is averaging 23.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.00 blocked shot in 53 games for the Trail Blazers this season, will be out at least a week with a left groin strain. It’s been a slow developing problem since at least the game against the Timberwolves on Feb. 8 in which Aldridge sat in the fourth quarter.
“A little beat up, but I got through it” said Aldridge after that victory. “That’s why I wasn’t in there at the end. My body has been a little bit sore, some nagging things, but I got through it.”
Some questioned why Aldridge played just 13 minutes on Sunday in the 2014 All-Star Game, now some will likely wonder if he should have played at all, although the brand of basketball played in the All-Star Game didn’t seem all that rigorous, at least in comparison to the 37 minutes he played in Portland’s last game before the break.
Aldridge will be reevaluated in a week, which means he could miss more time depending on how the groin heals. Portland has five games in the next eight days, four of which are at the Moda Center.
Leonard’s injury, a left ankle sprain, occurred during the team’s practice on Tuesday. He had played very limited minutes for at least the last month until Joel Freeland went down with a right MCL sprain. The second year center out of Illinois played 14 minutes in the last two games since Freeland’s injury, and now he’ll join him on the bench for at least the rest of February.
The loss of Aldridge is obviously the toughest for Terry Stotts to replace, in that it’s impossible considering what the 6-11 power forward has meant to the Trail Blazers this season. The Blazers have played the same starting lineup in every game this season and now will likely start either Thomas Robinson or Victor Claver in Aldridge’s place. It’s also a guarantee Stotts will employ various “small ball” lineups, at least until Aldridge is cleared to return.