LaMarcus Aldridge calls his Nets debut ‘perfect’
LaMarcus Aldridge looked nothing like a 35-year-old who hadn't played an NBA game in a month during his debut with the Brooklyn Nets.
Aldridge started at center Thursday in his first game since signing with the Nets and looked rejuvenated in a 111-89 win over the Charlotte Hornets. The seven-time All-Star had 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in 30 minutes as Brooklyn won for the 20th time in the last 23 games.
Though Kevin Durant and James Harden didn't play Thursday, Aldridge knows the offense will go through those two and Kyrie Irving. In his debut, Aldridge tried to adapt quickly to a complementary role alongside them.
"Just try to find my spots to help these guys be better, try to open up the floor for Kyrie, James, KD," Aldridge said. "And when teams switch, just go down low. So I thought tonight was perfect. We had a good balance of inside, outside. They doubled me tonight, so I was just trying to find the open guy."
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LaMarcus Aldridge discusses his new team, his first start, and tonights win!#NETSonYESpic.twitter.com/eoVQm7xzoB
Aldridge last played for the San Antonio Spurs on March 1. Soon after, the team agreed to try to find a trade for Aldridge. When none materialized before the deadline, the parties reached a buyout. Aldridge signed with the Nets on Sunday.
Nets coach Steve Nash said Aldridge participated in a few scrimmages before deciding to make him a starter Thursday.
"We thought we've got to get him going, so why not throw him in the starting lineup and see if he can get his rhythm," Nash said. "I was impressed with his effectiveness after such a long layoff."
Coach Nash discusses LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Green, and tonights blowout win in his post-game interview!#NETSonYESpic.twitter.com/QQn2l3ShRp
Aldridge was only surprised by how well his stamina held up.
"I've been working. I wasn't just sitting on my couch," Aldridge said. "I'm an older guy, so I know how to stay ready. I was surprised how good my wind was because I thought I would definitely be more tired, but I felt great."
The Nets improved to 34-15 and lead the Philadelphia 76ers by a half-game for first place in the Eastern Conference. Harden isn't expected to miss much time, and the Nets hope Durant is close to returning. With Aldridge adding more depth and lineup flexibility, Brooklyn looks just a bit more like the team to beat in the East.
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