TV: League Pass
- Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge had his car rear-ended on the drive to the Rose Garden tonight. Aldridge was fine, if a little shaken, as there was some significant damage to the car. “It was the other guy’s fault,” Aldridge said.
- Portland got word Monday that rookie center Meyers Leonard, who has missed the last four games with a sprained right ankle, will probably be out for another couple of weeks. “It was more than a tweak,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Sprains can last a long time. It’s a setback for him and for us to not have him out there. He’s young; he’ll bounce back. It’s just disappointing that it happened.”
- Don’t talk injuries to Jacque Vaughn. The first-year Orlando coach has been lost his top three forwards — Al Harrington, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu — for significant portions of the season. Harrington (knee) has missed the entire season. Davis (shoulder) has been out the last eight games. Turkoglu (hand) has been back the last four games after fracturing his left hand Nov. 2 against Denver. It’s played a part in the Magic’s eight-game losing streak. “This patch has coincided with some injuries, and that’s part of basketball,” Vaughn said. “No one is crying for us. We’re going to continue to play hard and see where that leads us. We’ve done a lot of good things during this stretch, but unfortunately, it hasn’t translated to wins.”
- Neither Harrington nor Davis are with the Magic as they begin a four-game road trip. “Doesn’t mean they won’t join us at some point,” Vaughn said. “All their rehab has been positive. We want them back as soon as we can.”
- Vaughn will start rookies DeQuan Jones and Andrew Nicholson at forward tonight alongside second-year center Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic averaging 11.1 points and ranks seventh in the NBA in rebounding at 10.7 per game. He had 20 points and a franchise-record 29 boards on Dec. 31 against Miami. “Vucecic has been really steady for us,” Vaughn said. “He’s been one of our most consistent players all year, and to think this is only his second year in the league. There’s no substitute for game experience. We’ve played Utah twice this year. the first time Nik goes against Al Jefferson, Al gets him on probably six pump-fakes. The second time around, he gets Nik on maybe a half a pump-fake. But until you experience it, no matter what the coach tells you or shows you on (video), it’s not going to matter. This experience has been great for our guys right and now and for us going forward.”
- Guards Will Barton and Nolan Smith won’t be available to the Blazers tonight. They’re with Boise of the D-League.
–– Kerry Eggers