LaMarcus Aldridge misses another game-winner, Blazers playoff hopes plummet
LaMarcus Aldridge backed his defender deep into the lane, twirled around and flicked his wrist, firing a make-or-break fadeaway jumper at the start of a make-or-break five-game trip. You know how this ends. The last-second shot looked good. Aldridge said it felt good. The Trail Blazers thought it was good. But it wasn’t good, and when Wesley Matthews’ desperation tip-in also missed, the Blazers suffered a heartbreaking 101-100 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers before 15,623 at Wells Fargo Center. Two days after labeling another trip “make or break,” Aldridge failed to deliver the Blazers a much-needed victory and their miniscule playoff odds dipped closer to zero. “We always keep fighting and we always put ourself in position to win,” Aldridge said. “Tonight we did it again. I just didn’t make the shot tonight.” All season, Blazers coach Terry Stotts has turned to a different player in different game-deciding moments and most often his moves have worked out as Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Aldridge have rewarded his faith. The Blazers are 9-6 in games decided by three points or less. But it was the second time in 10 games Aldridge has missed a game-winner and there’s little doubt that internet message boards and talk radio will passionately debate on Tuesday what might have happened if Stotts turned to Lillard in the closing seconds against the 76ers. Lillard scored eight points during a late 18-4 Blazers run that got them back in the game and hit multiple clutch shots down the stretch, including a critical three-pointer with 7.9 seconds left that brought the Blazers to within 101-100.
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