Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was a guest Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show and things got a bit silly, to put it lightly. Patrick asks Aldridge about his 46-point, 18-rebound performance in Game 1 versus Houston, but that’s about where the discussion of basketball ends. The rest of interview is Patrick goading Aldridge on various subjects like Houston’s defense (or lack thereof), how many televisions he has in his home (and if he can stay there when he visits Portland) to whether he would start a team with Kevin Durant or LeBron James. I went ahead and transcribed it for you, but this is an interview that is best listened to.
Dan Patrick: He’s LaMarcus Aldridge. He had a decent game in Game 1 against the Rockets. He merely went for 46 points, 18 rebounds and two assists and he joins us on the program. LaMarcus, how are you this morning?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I’m doing well. And you?
Dan Patrick: I have no complaints. You tired after Game 1?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I was. It was a long game. I think both teams definitely tried to grind it out. I was definitely tired after Game 1, but I’ve had one or two days of rest, so I’m good to go now.
Dan Patrick: Okay, have you ever been too tired from shooting?
LaMarcus Aldridge: Uh, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I think a couple games in my career where I’ve had maybe a high 30 amount of shots, I might have been a little tired because as you take more shots, you get tired. But I think if you make most of your shots then I think you get more energy. In my past I might have missed most of those shots that I took, so I was tired. But after the last game I definitely wasn’t tired.
Dan Patrick: Is Dwight Howard the Dwight Howard of old?
LaMarcus Aldridge: To me, he is. I think he just plays a different role with this Houston Rockets team. He has more help and he has James Harden, who probably takes a little bit of that burden off of him. He still tries to be dominant down low, he still blocks shots. I think he still does all the things he did when he was in Orlando. I think he’s just has more help now.
Dan Patrick: Let’s me honest: 46 points is nice against the Rockets, but they don’t play any defense LaMarcus.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Uh, I think they do. Yeah, they do. They blocked two of my shots. Dwight Howard clogs the lane. I think most of my shots were kind of tough. I think in the playoffs everybody plays defense, or they at least try. I wouldn’t say that they don’t play defense. I wouldn’t say it was an easy 46. It was definitely tough and I feel like they definitely made all my looks tough. I can’t say they don’t play defense, I’m sorry.
Dan Patrick: Alright, so they played defense twice when they blocked your shot. But getting 46 against the Rockets is really like getting 30 against another team.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Man, tough crowd today (laughs).
Dan Patrick: I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Maaaan, way to devalue my performance. Thanks.
Dan Patrick: Well I’m trying to get you pumped up that 46, okay, I expect a little bit more in Game 2.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Oh, wow. I’m definitely going to try to win and do what I can do, but I don’t know if I can do more than that. I think that was one of those performances.
Dan Patrick: LaMarcus, I was around when Bird and Magic and Michael played. I expect greatness every single night.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Hey, me too. I’m definitely going to try to be great every night. I’m gonna turn the page on that one. My question is, when you coming to Portland?
Dan Patrick: I’m coming out in July. I was thinking maybe we could stay at your crib.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Sounds good. I have a nice little guest room for you. You can just set up shop there and you’ll be good to go.
Dan Patrick: How many TVs do you have?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I’m a TV guy. That’s tough. Let me just try to count really quickly here.
Dan Patrick: Over or under 12 TVs in the Aldridge mansion?
LaMarcus Aldridge: One, two, three, four, five, six … maybe under. Maybe right under 12.
Dan Patrick: Cause I like to watch myself on TV a lot on a lot of different channels.
LaMarcus Aldridge: I’ve heard that about you. I’ve heard that about you.
Dan Patrick: Have you ever come home and watched yourself on TV, just you watching yourself. Like, when you got through Game 1 against the Rockets did you come home and go “Damn I’m good”?
LaMarcus Aldridge: Um, nah I came home and I was like, I’m truly blessed, cause without God that performance wouldn’t have been possible. In the moment it felt surreal but I just felt overly blessed at that moment.
Dan Patrick: Well, I do too, but I’d still come home and say “Damn I was good.”
LaMarcus Aldridge: Nah, I don’t think it’s even hit me yet. I’m so locked in on trying to win every game and just do my job that I haven’t really like thought about it yet.
Dan Patrick: He’s LaMarcus Aldridge, the humble Blazers forward joining us on the Dan Patrick Show. Did you help recruit Durant to Texas? Did you host him when he came down there or was it the other way around?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I did, I did. I was his host when he came down. We played open gym, hung out, talked a little bit. Rick Barnes was ecstatic to have him down there. He said that KD was one of those guys that come along every once in a while. I really didn’t watch high school basketball so I didn’t have a clue, but I trusted Rick’s judgement and he was right.
Dan Patrick: Okay, how skinny was he though LaMarcus? When Kevin Durant came to Texas, he’s 6-9, 100 and what?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I don’t know, he was pretty skinny. He was skinny because I was smaller when I first got there but he was smaller than me, so that was impressive to be smaller than I was. He was pretty skinny.
Dan Patrick: Did you realize at that time how good this guy was or could be?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I knew he was good but I didn’t know he was going to be this good. I saw how skilled he was and how tall he was and how he could make plays and make things happen, with his height I thought he could shoot it. But I didn’t know he was going to be this great.
Dan Patrick: If I said you could start your teams with Durant or LeBron …
LaMarcus Aldridge: Come on man, how you gonna do me like this?
Dan Patrick: Come on! I play better defense than
the Rockets do. I’ve got to put a little heat on your. You’re starting your team …
LaMarcus Aldridge: I don’t know. I need more time! A GM doesn’t have to make the decision right away. They’ve got time to do homework.
Dan Patrick: This is right on the moment. It’s like when you decide if you’re going to take a shot or a pass, it’s right now! I just threw you the ball: LeBron or Durant?
LaMarcus Aldridge: It’s not that simple! Either I’m open or I’m not open. Right now I could be open, they’re closing out to me, I don’t know if he’s going to run all the way out, he could stop short. There’s things going on that I don’t know yet.
Dan Patrick: You’ve got a wide-open 15-footer and nobody is around you LaMarcus. It’s just you, I throw it to you, there’s no defense, you’re right at the foul line and I go “LeBron or Kevin Durant?” as I throw it to you and you go …
LaMarcus Aldridge: (Laughs) I can’t answer it. It’s too tough. They’re both great players, they both do things that make their team better. That’s tough. I can’t. I can’t answer that, I’m sorry.
Dan Patrick: I’ll answer it for you.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Okay, who would you take?
Dan Patrick: Politically correct answer is Kevin Durant for you.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Of course, we’re both Longhorns. But I want to be real with you: of course he’s great and so is LeBron, so I’m not going to say what I should say. I want to give a real answer but I don’t know what I should say.
Dan Patrick: But you’ve already said it! LaMarcus, by not saying it, you said it, and I appreciate that.
LaMarcus Aldridge: I can’t win with you!
Dan Patrick: I think the headline is going to come out “LaMarcus Aldridge says Kevin Durant is overrated, He likes LeBron better.” I think that’s what the story says.
LaMarcus Aldridge: No! No! Ah man.
Dan Patrick: LaMarcus, not a true LongHorn, he goes with LeBron.
LaMarcus Aldridge: I did not say that. No, they’re both great players.
Dan Patrick: Okay. You know who I’m taking?
LaMarcus Aldridge: Who you taking?
Dan Patrick: LeBron.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Okay.
Dan Patrick: You know why?
LaMarcus Aldridge: Why?
Dan Patrick: He’s giving me the ball! Kevin Durant ain’t throwing you the ball LaMarcus!
LaMarcus Aldridge: That’s your opinion. I’m not in it. I don’t know who I would choose. They’re both great players. That’s my answer, I’m sticking to it.
Dan Patrick: Alright, when I go to Portland in July, give me the restaurant where I have to go.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Oh, there’s so many. Whatever I say, half of Portland is going to be mad at me because there’s probably a place they feel is better.
Dan Patrick: Would you rather answer the Kevin Durant/LeBron James question or the restaurant question?
LaMarcus Aldridge: (Laughs) Nobody told me I was going to be attacked by you. I thought you were a Trail Blazer fan, like you liked us. But I feel like you have some hate towards me right now. What did I do to you?
Dan Patrick: But LaMarcus, here’s the thing: The more I like you, the tougher my questions.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Man. Okay. You must really like me then.
Dan Patrick: You should hear the questions I ask my wife and my kids!
LaMarcus Aldridge: I don’t want to hear those questions then. Those are probably mind-boggling.
Dan Patrick: You know what, when I come to Portland, I’m going to pick a restaurant and I’m taking you to dinner, my treat.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Sounds good. So you should ask the fans where they would choose and hopefully it’s somewhere I’ve never been so I can try that with you.
Dan Patrick: Here’s the problem LaMarcus: When I ask my fans where to go, oh they tell me where to go and it’s not a restaurant. So, just letting you know. They can be tough with me.
LaMarcus Aldridge: They’re paying you back for being tough with them.
Dan Patrick: So after you beat the Rockets and move on to the next round, right, who do you face in the next round after you beat the Rockets?
LaMarcus Aldridge: I can’t do that. Man. We have won one game, it’s a lot of games left and we’re staying focused and we know every game is going to be a fight so we’re just going to try to keep doing what we’re doing.
Dan Patrick: Look at you. By the way, tell your coach I say hello. I’ve known Terry a long, long time. And if you want some stories about Terry, I’d be more than happy to tell those to you privately.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Yeah, make sure you tell me some when you come to Portland so I can use it against him.
Dan Patrick: He’s a good man. Known him a long time. Hey, congrats, good luck in Game 2 against the Rockets.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Alright, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Of all the adjectives one could use to describe the 2015-16 Portland Trail Blazers, “resilient” might be the most applicable. Despite being the third-youngest team in the NBA this season, the Trail Blazers have been remarkably adept at bouncing back. Whether it was replacing four of five starters from the season before, enduring two losing streaks of at least five games or finishing the season by going 33-18 after starting the year 11-20 to make the postseason and finish fifth in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers, under Terry Stotts’ steady hand, have shown a level of maturity with regard to the way they’ve dealt with disappointment that belies their relative youth and inexperience.
Which is good, because they’re going to need every last bit of fortitude they can muster to get over their fourth-quarter performance at Oracle Arena in their 110-99 loss to the Warriors in Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals. Despite leading by as much as 17 in the game and 11 in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers were outscored 34-12 in the final 12 minutes, resulting in an 11-point loss and a 2-0 series deficit.
“They’re not a young team, they’ve got a lot of guys that have been around, they’re very smart,” said Damian Lillard of the Warriors. “They see slippage and they go after it. If they see something that they can take advantage of, they take advantage of it. In that last five minutes (of Game Two), we just let our foot off the gas a little bit. I don’t know if it was fatigue mentally but we had some mental mistakes. One or two plays got them going, they got into it and the better they played offensively, they just got sharper defensively. That hurt us.”
While every loss stings, Portland’s loss in Game Two seemed to be more painful than most, for multiple reasons. First, the Warriors have lost at Oracle Arena just twice during the regular season, setting the NBA record for most consecutive home victories in the process, making the unfulfilled opportunity of beating the defending champs on their home court, and in a playoff game no less, a rather bitter pill to swallow, especially after leading for all but the last five minutes of the game. The Trail Blazers will have to beat the Warriors at least once at Oracle to move on to the Western Conference Finals, and one could argue that they won’t get a better chance to do so than they had Tuesday night.
“After that game, I was pretty hot about that one,” said Lillard. “Just because not only was it a great opportunity, but we had it. It was right there, all we had to do was four and a half, five minutes where we just got to be as sharp as possible. That was the challenge for us, just lock in even more, take it to a new level. Instead of that, we went a little bit downhill and they picked it up the way we needed to pick it up. We just wasn’t able to finish it. It sucked man. I was pretty hot about that one.”
And then there’s the matter of soon-to-be two-time MVP Stephen Curry, who has sat out the last two games with a sprained MCL in his right knee. While the Trail Blazers are in no way rooting for Curry to remain sidelined, the simple fact is they have a much better chance of beating the Warriors when the best player in the NBA is in street clothes. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said the Curry would probably sit out Game Three as well, though it seems very unlikely he misses another game this series at Oracle, which, once again, makes the loss in Game Two that much more disappointing.
“I can’t speak on behalf of (the rest of the team), I don’t know how they feel personally, but it’s a game we should have won,” said CJ McCollum. “It’s unfortunate that we let it slip away. That’s what good teams do, they hang around and they finish off games at home. We’ve got to be better than that and I think we will be better. Got to move forward now and take advantage of Game Three.”
Luckily, the Trail Blazers have a bit of extra time to put Game Two behind them. While they have shown an ability to learn from their mistakes and move on this season, some players admitted that Game Two going down the way it did was lingering a bit. And in those situations, sometimes the best solution is playing another game as soon as possible, though that might not be the case this time around.
“Yesterday, I didn’t even want to see a basketball,” said Lillard. “I wasn’t even going to watch the playoff game yesterday until I heard Cleveland was hitting a bunch of threes, so I wanted to see for myself. But I didn’t even want to have nothing to do with basketball yesterday after that game.”
But after a day away from the game, Lillard and the rest of the Trail Blazers returned to their facility in Tualatin to prepare for Game Three at the Moda Center. If they’re able to make the improvements and adjustments necessary to get their first victory of the series Saturday night in Portland, they might truly be able to move on from what happened Tuesday night in Oakland.
“Ain’t nothing I can do about it now. In my mind, it’s over,” said McCollum. “It’s unfortunate that it had to happen but we can learn from it. We can’t sulk and moan and act like it’s the end of the world. We’re down 0-2 against a very good team. Now we’re at home, now we have a very good opportunity to take advantage of two home games and learn from mistakes in the first two games.”
Now back in Portland for games Three and Four of the second round series versus the Golden State Warriors, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record a Game Two recap edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this latest edition we discuss Portland’s collapse in the fourth quarter of Game Two that turned what looked like a rare road win at Oracle Arena into an 11-point loss, how the Trail Blazers go about putting that game behind them before Game Three at the Moda Center, the reports of Stephen Curry sitting out Game Three, Maurice Harkless’ defense on Klay Thompson, the overall quality of the defending champs and answer a few questions about Game Three adjustments, Portland’s locker room, Draymond Green, how far we can run at this point in our lives and a few more random things that I’ve already since forgotten.
OAKLAND — For the first three quarters, it looked as though the Portland Trail Blazers might actually beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, something that only two teams have managed to do in the last seven months.
But unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, NBA games last four quarters. And Tuesday night in Oakland, the Warriors outscored the Trail Blazers 34-12 in the final 12 minutes to come away with a 110-99 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 in Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals.
“We played three really good quarters, and we showed that we can compete with them, and it got away from us in the fourth quarter, obviously,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was disappointing to lose a game that you’re competitive and you’re in a position to be in the fourth quarter. But we’ve got to close it out… It was an opportunity to get a win on the road, and we’ve got to learn from it and be ready to go get one in Game Three.”
The Warriors now lead the series 2-0.
“I think nights like tonight, they suck,” said Damian Lillard. “It hurts to go back in the locker room after you play so well for so long and you come back in there with the L. But it is a part of growth. The entire season has been growth for us. But nights like tonight, we have to close that out. We have to get that done. It was just a missed opportunity.”
The first half of Tuesday night’s game went about as well as the Trail Blazers could possible expect, with Portland taking a 17-point lead in the second quarter thanks to shooting 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. Though the Warriors would cut into the Trail Blazers lead thanks to an 18-3 run, Portland, as was the case for most of the night, always seemed to counter at just the right time to quiet the Oracle Arena crowd. That counter in at the end of the second quarter came courtesy of back-to-back threes from Al-Farouq Aminu and Damian Lillard to push the lead back to eight by the intermission.
Portland, thanks mostly to Lillard going 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from three in the third, extended their lead to 11 going into the fourth quarter before Golden State got white hot to finish out the game. The Warriors took their first lead of the night early in the fourth quarter and would go on to win by 11 after finishing out the game by shooting 11-of-18 in the final 12 minutes of regulation. The Trail Blazers also play right into the Warriors’ hands by turning the ball over five times while going 5-of-19 from the field.
“I think the last run, they were desperate,” said Lillard. “It got to the point where it was win or lose. There wasn’t another quarter after that. It wasn’t just stay with it. It was, ‘We’ve got to do it now.’ And they played desperate, and we just didn’t respond to it well enough to finish the game.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who scored 17 in the third quarter before finishing with 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 shooting from three, six assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes. CJ McCollum went 9-of-19 for 22 points, two rebounds and two assists in 41 minutes.
Aminu got off to a fast start, scoring 10 points in the first quarter before finishing with 14 to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Maurice Harkless would add 11 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes with Gerald Henderson coming off the bench to add 12.
As was the case in Game One, Klay Thompson would lead the Warriors with 27 points on 7-of-20 shooting from the field and 5-of-14 shooting from three. Draymond Green, who was the driving force along with Festus Ezeli in Golden State’s pivotal fourth quarter, was just shy of another triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes while also blocking four shots.
“I think there came a point where me and Klay were trying to do too much,” said Green. “When we settled down and trusted everybody else, that’s when everything started to click for us. So as far as the way I’ve been playing with the exception of that one game, it’s playoff basketball. This is what we live for. You play the whole season to get to this point.”
Shaun Livingston and Harrison Barnes scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, with Andre Igoudala putting up 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench.
Next up, the series takes a three-day break before shifting to Portland for Game Three on Saturday at the Moda Center.
“We’ve been in bad positions time and time again, and we’ve never shied away,” said Lillard. “We’ve never not answered the call. I don’t see why this time it would be any different. In our last series against the Clippers, we were down 0-2. We went home, and the next two games they were pretty much full strength. They had their guys and we got it done those two games. Obviously, Golden State is a different monster, but we know the same thing can happen, and that’s what we’re going in there thinking and believing, and we’re back on our home floor. We’ve got to go out there and play a game like tonight and go finish it.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 pm on ABC and 620 AM.