CLEVELAND — The Trail Blazers held shootaround this morning at Quicken Loans Arena in preparation for tonight’s game against the Cavaliers here in Cleveland. I’m a bit short on time, so here are some real quick hitters from today’s shootaround …
· LaMarcus Aldridge, who was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the third time this season, said that while it was nice to be recognized, that the award is really more of an indication of how well entire Trail Blazers roster is playing.
“It just means that the team is playing at a very high level right now and we’re playing very unselfish,” said Aldridge, who finished the week averaging 25.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks. “It’s an individual award but it definitely reflects on how well my teammates are playing also.”
Aldridge said that now is not the time to reflect upon his accomplishments this season, as the team still has a lot of work to do if they’re to end a two-year playoff drought. But he did say, when asked about his status as one of the greatest Trail Blazers of all-time now that he’s behind only Clyde Drexler for the most Player of the Week awards, that maybe fans will start to look at his career in Portland a different way now that he’s started to stack up individual awards.
“They’ve never seen me in that light,” said Aldridge when asked if he thought fans put him among the most recognizable names in franchise history. “I don’t think a lot of people did but now I think people are buying into seeing me in that light. The body of work that I’ve done in Portland, that helps out my case.”
· The matchup at point guard between Portland’s Damian Lillard and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about come Wednesday morning. While the two are a part of the next generation of great NBA point guards, Lillard pointed out that the Cavaliers have more than one guard who is going to make his life difficult tonight on the defensive end.
“Every possession I’ve got to keep with it,” said Lillard. “(Irving) is probably going to make some tough shots, probably going to make some good moves but I’m going to have him at some point in the game, I’m going to have to guard (Jarrett) Jack at some point in the game and (Dion) Waiters. It’s going to be a tough night defensively but we’ve just got to find a way to win the game. I think everybody on our team is up for the challenge.”
· Finally, despite the advice from his legal representation, Robin Lopez discussed the origins of his dispute with Piston’s horse mascot Hooper, who Lopez assaulted prior to Sunday night’s game at the Palace at Auburn Hills.
“I think that was kind of an inherited blood feud in a way,” said Lopez. “I know that there was some bad blood between him and the Brooklyn Nets the night before. I’m not sure who orchestrated it but I can’t help but feel I was the victim of that a little bit.”
The “bad blood” stemmed from the part Robin’s twin brother Brook played in a vicious beatdown of Hooper a few night’s before, which prompted Hooper to take to Twitter to challenge Portland’s Lopez, leaving Robin little choice but to defend his honor and that of his family.
“Of course I had to stick up for the family name,” said Robin. “He really should have thought twice before stepping to me … He was really throwing rocks at the hornet’s nest.”
That rock-throwing continued today with Hooper continuing to pester Lopez via Twitter. And while Hooper is probably safe from another beating courtesy of Lopez thanks to Portland playing in Detroit just once per year, the same might not be true for Moondog, the Cleveland Cavaliers canine mascot.
“If (Moondog) stares at me for too long,” said Robin, “if he makes direct eye contact with me, I’d say he has one or two things to worry about. I’m a little canine in my own way. I can be vicious as well.”