It seems the opinion on the matter and the position changes everyday, but leading the Portland Trail Blazers to the best start in the Western Conference gives LaMarcus Aldridge the edge right now over someone like Kevin Love, making him the best power forward in the NBA on one of the best teams in the league right now.
Even a 34 point fourth quarter from the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t take the rebound-win from the Blazers, having no problem putting the 14-point loss to the Phoenix Suns behind them and getting back on track with a 114-108 win at the Staples Center over a team that continuously looks a lot better when their bench players are on the court.
The Blazers? The exact opposite. They did get 23 points from their bench, which isn’t too bad, but there’s no doubt they don’t really reserve any firepower from their starting lineup. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 27 points, followed by Damian Lillard scoring 26. Wesley Matthews joined in with 17 points on another impressive performance from beyond the arc (3-of-5) while Nicolas Batum took a step back in terms of his offensive game (only 9 points), but did a lot of everything else, adding 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Blazers blew leads of 20 points in the beginning of the fourth quarter and 17 points in the first half. They started off with a 21-4 run and making 17 of their first 24 shots, but every time the Lakers sent Xavier Henry and his bench-gang to the floor, the Lakers pushed back. Henry scored 27 points and was helped by Nick Young with 17, but even their 24-5 run in the beginning of the fourth quarter wasn’t enough. Even beautiful basketball that the Lakers play, especially when they don’t have a point guard on the floor, isn’t enough when it comes so sporadically, and there’s no real fair fight when it comes to the talent difference between the two teams.
Damian Lillard – We need to stay consistent. There’s still a learning curve for us, but it’s a good sign if your lesson is you have to learn how to play with a lead. It’s better than having to fight back. When things are going well, we tend to ease up instead of tightening up and putting teams away. Once teams get fired up and get back in the game, our intensity rises again. We have to find a way to keep it at that high level.