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LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s back for rest of season

LaMarcus Aldridge

Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge sports a brace on his left hand as he stretches before the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. Aldridge had said on Thursday that he needed surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb and was expected to miss from six to eight weeks. But just hours before the game against the Wizards, the Blazers announced on Twitter that the three-time All-Star would play. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

AP

LaMarcus Aldridge injured his hand, met with a specialist and opted for surgery.

Then, he decided nah.

The Trail Blazers forward delayed surgery, and for one game at least, the decision paid off. He scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Portland’s win over the Wizards on Saturday.

But how long would Aldridge put off the surgery? Was this a short-term motivational move designed to inspire his teammates? Was he waiting for some of his 6-to-8 week recovery period to overlap with the – extended – All-Star break?

Aldridge, via Sam Amick of USA Today:

“This wasn’t a one-game thing,” Aldridge said. “Once I said I was going to try, then I was back. And if it became too much, then I was going to have surgery. ... So as of now, I’m back. But if I get it whacked or if something happens where I can’t tolerate it and I’m not playing at a good enough level to help the team, then I’ll have surgery. But as of now, I think they have done a good job of protecting it, so I’m back for the season and then I’ll just have surgery in the offseason.”

Aldridge will still eventually need surgery, and by playing through this injury, he could possibly double his recovery time. But if he’s comfortable with that, great for him.

And great for Portland.

The Trail Blazers are legitimate championship contenders. At 32-13, they’re third in the Western Conference – but also just one game from beginning the playoffs on the road. Having Aldridge healthy for the postseason is most important to Portland’s title hopes, but him helping improve the Trail Blazers playoff position now matters, too.