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April 1, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) battles for position with Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game 119-106. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Real 'Snub' Game For LaMarcus Aldridge

Dec 18, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) dribbles past Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the fourth quarter at Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Trail Blazers 120-109. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Every single season someone prominent gets left off the NBA All-Star team or, in this case, isn’t named an All-Star starter. Last season everyone was up in arms regarding Stephen Curry being completely left off the roster and after Thursday night’s announcement of All-Star starters, the buzz is about LaMarcus Aldridge not being voted in.

The three frontcourt spots were nabbed by Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin — all of whom are deserving as well. Fans vote and Aldridge just didn’t get the votes this season — but he will definitely be selected by the coaches for the All-Star roster and could even possibly take Kobe Bryant‘s starting spot if he chooses not to play due to injury.

Shortly after the voting was announced Thursday night the Blazers took the court against the Denver Nuggets and Aldridge put on a show to the tune of a career-high 44 points to go with 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. This led many to call this LA’s “snub game” as he clearly thought he should have been named a starter for the All-Star game. Here’s what Aldridge had to say about it:

“Everybody around me was more upset than me. I came in tonight and Nicolas Batum was pretty fired up about it. I think I definitely should have been a starter. But it’s over with now, basically.”

Thursday night was an amazing performance and I don’t want to take anything away from that. However, the real way to show voters they messed up is to avenge yourself against one of the guys who was named an All-Star starter — enter Kevin Love.

Saturday night looks to be an eventful matchup of two of the league’s top power forwards. Minnesota will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back and they are coming off a big win at Golden State. They were able to narrowly escape a missed Harrison Barnes‘ jumper at the end of the game and left with a 121-120 victory they desperately needed.

Rematch

Blazer fans probably tried as hard as possible to erase Dec. 18, 2013, from their minds due to the sheer dominance that was displayed by the Timberwolves that night. The game ended 120-109 in favor of the home Wolves’ team, but that score wasn’t close to indicative of how the game actually went.

More important (for our context today) the matchup between Love and Aldridge was also pretty one-sided in favor of Mr. Love. Aldridge struggled all night, shooting a woeful 7-for-22 from the floor, but still finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Love, however, put together one of his best all-around games of the season with 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists while shooting 10-of-18 from the floor and 4-for-7 from 3-point range.

I don’t want to insinuate that Love’s defense was responsible entirely for Aldridge’s rough night, but when we’re talking about “fan voting” and the perception of players; individual matchups are weighted heavily. Love has all the respect in the world for Aldridge and here’s what he said about him earlier this season when asked who some of his stiffest competition comes from.

“…a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s really taken his game to new heights, also plays on a great team in Portland. Those are the guys I look forward to playing against.”

Love had named Blake Griffin earlier in that interview as the other guy he considers to be a big rival.

Here’s a look at Aldridge and Love’s numbers to this point this season.

Kevin Love

Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2013-14 40 40 36.0 .459 .386 .498 .802 13.0 4.1 0.9 0.4 2.3 25.0
Career 327 245 32.3 .450 .361 .475 .812 12.3 2.2 0.7 0.5 2.0 18.3
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2014.

LaMarcus Aldridge

Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2013-14 43 43 36.9 .477 .125 .480 .817 11.6 2.9 0.9 1.0 1.7 24.7
Career 551 510 35.5 .491 .202 .495 .786 8.1 2.0 0.8 1.0 1.6 18.8
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2014.

When you consider there are only three spots for frontcourt players among the All-Star starters, it’s really tough to argue against KD, Blake or Love. However, traditionally guys on winning teams are rewarded when it comes to awards and things of this nature. For my money Kevin Love is the best power forward in the NBA today, but this season I have to think LaMarcus should have been the starter over him.

Call me biased if you like but coming into Saturday’s matchup the Blazers are 32-11 and the Wolves are 21-21, so that’s got to count for something.

You thought the 44-point outburst was impressive? Get ready for Saturday night on NBA TV, because to me this is the real snub game and Aldridge will be looking to make a statement.

**You can contact Chris regarding this article on Twitter: @Chris_Reichert

Tags: Lamarcus Aldridge Portland Trail Blazers

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