There wasn t any one highlight Wednesday night that explained LaMarcus Aldridge. Maybe he s beyond explanation.
The Portland Trail Blazers forward is 6-11 but prefers jumpers, steps inside the three-point arc for some of his most efficient shots and needed seven seasons to figure out how to be an elite rebounder. But he s here now. He s here, in the NBA playoffs, where the Blazers have won consecutive road games to take a 2-0 lead on the Houston Rockets.
Aldridge is here, and while he s here after two seasons away from the playoffs, he s making sure we know it.
That meant 43 points on 18-for-28 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks Wednesday in a 112-105 victory. And that was a letdown after he posted 46 points on 17-for-31 shooting, 18 rebounds and two blocks Sunday in Game 1.
We don t see these kinds of games normally.
OK, so we haven t seen these kinds of games in more than a decade.
What makes Aldridge so remarkable is how difficult it is for anyone to match up to him. His midrange jumper is both unblockable and unusual, a shot that most basketball experts rightly consider inefficient. But Aldridge shot better this season, his third as an All-Star, from 16 feet to the three-point line than he did from 3 feet to 10 feet or from 10 feet to 16 feet.
Or just look at his shooting chart from Games 1 and 2:
Aldridge is tearing apart the Rockets defense. Terrence Jones is too short to handle him, particularly because of his huge wingspan. And Dwight Howard and Omer Asik have little hope of staying in front of him.
Howard has gotten his, it s worth noting. He had 32 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday after 27 and 15 in Game 1. But he has shown his frustration late in games, particularly against Aldridge.