SAN ANTONIO — LaMarcus Aldridge's latest bout with heart arrhythmia kept him out less than a week, a big relief to the five-time All-Star as he and the San Antonio Spurs chase the Golden State Warriors for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Aldridge was cleared to return to full basketball activities and was expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday night against Portland with no restrictions, the Spurs announced.
The Spurs' star forward went through a bevy of tests and consulted with several experts before being cleared to return, giving the Spurs a much-needed post presence.
"We are thankful that LaMarcus will be able to rejoin the team," Spurs GM RC Buford said in a statement issued by the team. "All of us have been impressed with the professionalism and grace he has shown in dealing with this difficult situation."
Trail Blazers (29-37) at Spurs (52-14)
Time: 5 p.m.
TV: KGW and ESPN
Radio: 620 AM
The Spurs trail the Warriors by a half-game in the West.
Aldridge felt what the team called a minor arrhythmia last week in Oklahoma City. The Spurs announced on Friday that he would be out indefinitely , not taking any chances with the situation despite Aldridge's history of having little trouble returning to play after two previous episodes in his career.
Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome — an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat — as a rookie in 2007. He missed the final seven games of his first season while he was with Portland and also was held out 10 days in the preseason in 2011.
But it hasn't prevented him from becoming one of the premier post players in the game and a player the Spurs desperately need if they are going to leapfrog the scuffling Warriors for the top spot in the West. He is averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season.
San Antonio's pursuit of Golden State seemed to be in serious jeopardy last weekend, when Aldridge was shelved indefinitely and Kawhi Leonard was forced to sit out against the Warriors on Saturday night while going through the NBA's concussion protocol.
But the Spurs beat the Warriors after Golden State coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. Leonard returned on Monday after missing just the one game to lead San Antonio to a win over Atlanta.
Spurs not overlooking Blazers
San Antonio expects to be challenged by Portland, a team that's playing for its postseason lives with every game down the stretch.
"Portland is a team that's fighting to get into the playoffs and they will be playing very aggressively," San Antonio forward Pau Gasol said.
"They have two guards that are very good with the ball and other players that are efficient and can hurt you in different ways. They are versatile, and we will have to get ready for them and play with the same intensity and focus we have had for the past few games."
Portland looks to bounce back
Portland heads to San Antonio on the heels of a dreadful 100-77 loss to New Orleans on Tuesday. Damian Lillard scored 29 points to lead the Trail Blazers, who had won five of six before falling flat in the Big Easy.
The previous offensive low for Portland this season was a 111-80 loss to the L.A. Clippers on Nov. 9. It shot 30.3 percent Tuesday and finished far below its 108.6-points per game average.
The Trail Blazers (29-37) are 2.5 games behind Denver for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. They have three more games to play on their five-game road swing that could determine their fate.
- The Spurs have won all five meetings between the teams dating back to the beginning of last season, outscoring the Trail Blazers by an average of 13.8 points in those contests (108.8 -- 95.0).
- San Antonio has won nine straight home games heading into tonight's contest, holding its opponent under 100 points in seven of those games.
- Portland has won five of its seven games in March after going just 2-7 in February. The Trail Blazers are averaging 113.6 points per game this month, the third most by any team in the league and the most by Portland in any month since averaging 114.5 points per contest in April of the 1990-91 season (minimum 2 games played).
- Leonard has scored at least 30 points in four straight home games, averaging 33.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in those contests. Overall, Leonard has scored 30+ points in 24 games in 2016-17, the most by a Spurs player in a single season since David Robinson had 36 30-point games in 1994-95.
- Lillard is averaging 30.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in six road contests since the All-Star break, scoring at least 20 points in each game. Lillard is averaging 27.9 points per game at San Antonio throughout his career, the second most by any player all-time, trailing only Michael Jordan's 35.3 scoring average (minimum 2 games played).
- Gasol has come off the bench in all 10 Spurs contests since the All-Star break, averaging 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in those games. Gasol started all 39 of his games played prior to the break, averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in those contests.
STATS.com contributed to this report.
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