A lot of talk this offseason had to do with LaMarcus Aldridge trying to force his way out of the Portland Trail Blazers. True or false, he seems content with where he’s at, leading his team to their first win of the season against the confused-looking Denver Nuggets in 113-98 win.
Aldridge is the only one for the Blazers to start this season with some consistency, scoring 25 points, adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists. The Nuggets kept rotating defenders on him, but Aldridge just kept shooting, hitting 12-of-26 from the field, with the Blazers winning by 20 points during his minutes on the court.
Just like last year, it was about the starters doing most of the job against a deep Nuggets team that’s trying to find it’s way under a new head coach and general manager. Ty Lawson (21 points) was the only Denver starter in double figures, as the Nuggets shot horrendously all night with 36.4% from the field, making their four turnovers (only 11 combined) seem insignificant.
Unlike their season opener against the Suns, Aldridge got plenty of help from his lineup teammates: Nicolas Batum scored 21 points , Wesley Matthews added the same along with 12 rebounds and going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc while Damian Lillard scored 18 points, adding 7 assists. Doing that well, it didn’t really matter that they saw only 26 points from their bench players, led by Mo Williams scoring 11 points.
The Blazers did go with small ball lineups for a while, as both Robin Lopez and Meyers Leonard don’t give them the best offensive options, unlike Dorrell Wright, scoring 8 points in only 11 minutes. They’re trying to be the third team that makes something out of Thomas Robinson in only a year of NBA experience, but the former Kansas player was a disappointing 1-of-6 from the field, scoring 2 points.
The Nuggets are struggling changing their identity. An up-tempo team that didn’t stop crashing the boards and attacking the paint, Brian Shaw is trying to turn them into a half-court offense team, which doesn’t seem to fit the style of most players on the roster. Lawson might be scoring, but he isn’t able to be effective as a distributor in slower type of game, with his speed in the open floor being taken away from him by his own head coach.
Nate Robinson scoring 24 points off the bench might be encouraging, but he’s a coin-flip of a player, who can go 1-of-15 the very next day after a huge game. He doesn’t fit in half court offenses as well, and early on, the changes the Nuggets made court-side and on the floors don’t seem to be working quite right.
It’s good to have a guy like that (Aldridge) who can make those plays and guys can play off of him. The way we kept our composure when they made their run is something we should be proud of. Top to bottom, solid win for us.