Before Monday's game against the Kings, Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge had failed to score 10 points three times in 45 games this season. Those performances came with short minutes, and in none of the three did Aldridge take more than 10 shots.
Against Sacramento, Aldridge took 14 shots in a game-high 42 minutes ... but still couldn't get his offense going. Aldridge scored nine points on 4-14 shooting, as the Kings pulled away to win 96-81 in Portland. The teams played last week, too, with Portland edging the Kings in overtime. But Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert did a lovely job on Aldridge then, too; LMA scored 23 points in 46 minutes in that game, but shot just 10-24 on his way there.
Thompson's defense isn't consistent, almost completely due to foul issues, something he's failed to improve upon over last year (and that's just barely improved from his rookie season, during which he led the NBA in personal fouls despite playing just 28 minutes a game). But when he doesn't get called for ticky-tack fouls? He's mighty effective, using unnatural agility with a big frame and giant hands to cause problems.
Dalembert, of course, always seems to defend well, unless there's a shot to be goaltended. (That's a joke.) Dalembert played 27 minutes at center, often with Carl Landry. Paul Westphal made sure that whenver Aldridge was in the game, either Thompson or Dalembert was in there, too. That's fairly easy to do, given that Westphal has settled into a four-big rotation and that he doesn't play DeMarcus Cousins and Dalembert together. That said, with Sacramento's offense still struggling to keep the net moving, it'd be easy to let Cousins and Landry soak up big minutes together. Against Portland, Westphal saw the value of his best defenders staying on the court, and worked it out.
Cousins was saddled with foul trouble, which certainly limited Westphal's options anyways. Despite the issues with the whistles, DMC racked up 14 points on 6-9 shooting and eight rebounds in 15 minutes. That's boss. Sure, he had four turnovers, but now you're just raining on my shine. Rude.
Tyreke Evans had the big points total (26) and the icing shot (a spot-up three off a Beno Udrih assist to put the Kings up nine with two minutes left). But defense on Aldridge won this game for the Kings. Kudos to Thompson and Dalembert for providing it.