by Wendell Maxey of HOOPSWORLD
It is simply known around Portland as “The Shot”.
It came at the hands of Brandon Roy in early November against the Houston Rockets in overtime and on national television. With the Rockets leading 99-98, Roy hit the game-winning three-pointer from 30 feet out with 0.08 left on the clock.
That clip has been shown at every Blazers home game as part of player introductions ever since. Probably will for some time now. But that’s just one way to get the job done.
Four months later, Roy scored a driving finger-roll layup with 0.1 second remaining in the game, giving Portland a 109-108 victory over the New York Knicks on a Sunday evening.
“Brandon’s good at attacking the basket,” said head coach Nate McMillan when asked about Roy’s knack for late game heroics.
“To win and win big, you have to attack the paint.”
McMillan actually has the best of all worlds when he needs a big shot – even a last shot in some cases.
He can go in a number of directions. Obviously, Roy has proven effective in such situations as the two-time All-Star is nothing but a natural in the clutch. Travis Outlaw – once dubbed “Mr. Fourth Quarter” for his ability to get going late in games – easily has history on his side in similar situations (see last second game-winners at Memphis and Atlanta last season).
Yet somewhere in the shadow of Roy and Outlaw’s big bucket bravado, sits LaMarcus Aldridge. His “last shot” is essentially waiting to be released at any moment. Last season in Milwaukee, Aldridge went off for 29 points including the game-winner. Now it’s safe to assume Aldridge will also emerge as another go-to-guy when a game needs to be decided, perhaps even Wednesday night against Denver or an upcoming playoff game.
“Your key guys like that – that provide a lot of scoring for you – they have to learn how to do that,” McMillan added.
Through the course of the season, Aldridge’s production has come early in games as he’s embraced the moniker “Mr. First Quarter”. And while the ball typically ends up in Roy’s hands if a basket is needed late in shot clocks or in must win situations, Aldridge calmly picks his spots.
“It gets tough to find the schemes. You just try to figure it out,” Aldridge said.
For Roy though, he finds constant comfort in knowing L.A. can get the job done if and when the Blazers need that last shot.
“He (Aldridge) comes up huge. We just have different rhythms. Sometimes I look to attack because they want to take LaMarcus out right away,” Roy explained.
“It’s just about guys being ready to help carry the team.”
Roy has been there. So has Outlaw. The last shot is in them. It’s only fitting now that LaMarcus Aldridge joins the party.
It’s worth a shot.