UPDATE: According to the team, LaMarcus Aldridge (low back contusion) has upgraded to questionable vs. Atlanta. He will be a game-time decision.
Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge took questions from the media regarding his lower back contusion and his hopes of returning to the court for Portland’s game versus the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday. Aldridge, who has missed the last seven games since taking a hard fall during Portland’s 103-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 12, discussed where he’s currently at with the injury, not being able to run without pain, the difficulty of watching the Blazers struggle from the bench and whether or not he thinks the Blazers are in danger of missing the playoffs.
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Running isn’t normal yet. Trying to stride out and run hasn’t felt normal. It’s felt better the last couple days. A back contusion messes with your S.I. joint and messes with your running. The last couple days have been better, so that’s been positive.”
Has the situation the team finds itself in accelerated your desire to get back?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I wanted to play tonight, but I can’t run. So if you can’t run, what do you do? I’ve been wanting to come back. I didn’t think it would take this long but it ended up being more serious than we thought it was. I’ve just been trying to get back out there. It’s a process. We’ve done everything that we can do, the medical staff and myself. I’m going to work out tomorrow and then see how it feels.”
Do you think you might be able to play?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Yeah. I say I’m trying to go no matter what. If I look good enough to play, then I’m going to play. It’s on the medical staff.”
When you look at this team, what do you see happening?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Guys are tired. It’s a tough road trip and our shots aren’t falling right now. Guys are competing and playing hard, playing the right way. It’s just guys are tired. Hopefully I can try to come back next game and try to help out with that. Guys are playing hard, it’s just our shots are not falling and guys are just tired.”
When you came back from your hip injury you kept saying you were trying to get into a rhythm.
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I’ve had more time this time to workout. Last time I went from nothing to full speed to playing. This time it’s been more of a transition period of, let’s see you run, let’s see you shoot. I’ve worked out the last three to four days. It’s been more stationary shooting and minimal movement, but I’ve had more time to really find my rhythm. Last time I went from sitting on my couch and could move to playing. This time it’s been more of a transition period, so I think I’ll be fine.”
Your shot feels good?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “My shot feels great. It’s not really my game that I’m worried about, it’s just being able to move. My lateral quickness seems fine. It’s just running cause I hit that spot and when you flex back your glut it touches that spot that I really knocked on the floor. That’s my only worry.”
Is there a fear of this team not making the playoffs?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I mean, it’s a sense of urgency to get wins, as it should be. We’ve definitely let ourselves slide too far and we all want to get wins right now and we understand the magnitude of trying to take care of business right now. So I think everybody knows the importance of winning right now.”
You say you can’t run, so going up and down is an issue?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “It’s gotten better. The last two days, it’s been better, but it’s not normal. I still had discomfort running and that’s why I wasn’t out there. I couldn’t really move but the last two days have been great.”
Have they banged on you at all to recreate what you’re going to get in a game?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “That’s tomorrow (laughs).”
How do you think that’s going to go?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I think it’s going to go good. I’m hoping it’s going to go good. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Have you been medically cleared to play?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No I haven’t.”
Was the plan when this trip started was to come back against Atlanta?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No it wasn’t.”
Was there a plan in your mind when you wanted to come back?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No, it’s about when I could run and play. I feel like I’m getting close to that point so that’s what we’re going to try.”
Does the fact that the team is losing right now …
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Makes me want to play even worse? Yes it does. But it’s not about me, it’s about the medical staff and them saying I can play. I’ve been wanting to play but obviously if you can’t move then you can’t play.”