A Spurs team that has been without Kawhi Leonard for most of the season has nonetheless been able to remain in playoff contention. LaMarcus Aldridge has been largely responsible for that — once labeled a bust of a free agent signing, Aldridge has stepped up as a clutch leader for San Antonio, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes.
“He’s basically carried us and everybody else him with his talent and everybody else with their heart,” head coach Gregg Popovich said. “The game goes along, goes along, and then you realize that his heart is as big or bigger than anybody’s.”
Aldridge, in his third season with the Spurs, is also in the midst of his best season since departing from Portland. In 66 games, he’s averaging 23.1 PPG 8.4 RPG, and 2.1 APG. Without Aldridge’s production, the Spurs — who recently fell out of playoff contention — would likely not still be in the hunt. His coaches and teammates recognize and appreciate his productivity in a time of need.
“We are not the most talented team in the league,” veteran Manu Ginobili said. “He is the one with the real resources.”
Check out more Southwest Division notes:
- Rudy Gay escaped from the Kings to join the Spurs and chase a championship. San Antonio is in the postseason picture and Gay, who has played in just one playoff series in his career, wants to help the team, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I don’t know how they do it, to be honest,” veteran Tony Parker said of players who annually miss the postseason. “I’ve been in eight conference finals, so it’s kind of weird all those guys. But [Rudy Gay] got a great opportunity now with us and we will try to make the most out of it.”
- Injuries to both Chris Paul and James Harden have given Eric Gordon an opportunity to be the Rockets‘ fill-in starting point guard. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays that Gordon likes the opportunity the injuries created for him. “I like it that way,” Gordon said. “It expands my game more. To me, it’s tougher to determine what I’m going to do when I have the ball in my hands more. If you’re a good playmaker and a good scorer and you have the ball in your hands more, you have a chance to do good things. I do pretty well when I’m the backup point guard.”
- Dorian Finney-Smith served as a starting shooting guard for the Mavericks in order to get both him and Doug McDermott into the lineup, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes.“If you don’t start [Finney-Smith] at 2 or McDermott at 2, then somebody’s going to get really screwed on minutes,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “And we need to see both of those guys play because they’re both good players.