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Watch LaMarcus Aldridge drop 44 on Denver (VIDEO)

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 12: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots a free throw shot during the preseason NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on October 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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LaMarcus Aldridge was good in the first half Thursday night, scoring 14 points but needing 14 shots to get there. So at the half Denver coach Brian Shaw decided not to make any changes, leaving J.J. Hickson (primarily) on an island with Aldridge.

That strategy backfired. In the second half Aldridge dropped 30 points on 15 shots, getting to the free throw line for 14-of-17 and killing the Nuggets at the rim (7-of-10 in the restricted area) and the midrange (8-of-16). He finished with a career high 44 points, not-so-coincidentally on a night he was not selected as a starter for the NBA All-Star Game.

I’m in the group that thinks Aldridge is the best four in the game right now, I give him a slim lead over Kevin Love because of his defense. But he plays in Portland and didn’t win the fan-vote popularity contest. He will be an All-Star, the coaches will vote him in for sure.