LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum are hurt, so 3 rookies will start
It’s rookie time. Trail Blazers forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum will not play Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies because of injuries, and coach Terry Stotts has decided to go with a starting lineup featuring three rookies: Point guard Damian Lillard, center Meyers Leonard and forward Victor Claver. It will be the first time the Blazers have started more than two rookies in a game this season. “It’s a good opportunity for Meyers and Victor and Will (Barton) to get some minutes on the court,” Stotts said, before noting the team’s goals remain the same. “But we’re going to try to win games. Guys out there are going to play to win. That part hasn’t changed.” Aldridge will miss his fourth consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. He did not travel with the team on it’s just-completed two-game trip so he could undergo extended rehabilitation, but the extra time in the trainer’s room did not do enough to get Aldridge back on the court. Stotts said he hopes Aldridge will practice Thursday and, perhaps, play on Friday against the Houston Rockets. As if playing without their only All-Star wasn’t problematic enough, the Blazers also will be without Batum against the Grizzlies — and perhaps much longer. Batum tweaked his right shoulder during the Blazers’ Monday night loss to the Utah Jazz and has dealt with lingering pain and weakness since. Batum underwent X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging testing on his right shoulder and the results did not reveal any major damage.
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