CLEVELAND — At 36 years old and in his 16th season, former seven-time NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge is proving he still can get it done, scoring 12.9 points per game for the Nets on career-high 56.5% shooting. What makes his production especially significant is that Aldridge has adjusted to coming off the bench exclusively after starting 948 of the 951 games he played between his rookie season and this one.
In the five games he played for the Nets last season before retiring suddenly with a heart arrythmia, Aldridge was a starter. But when he received medical clearance to return this season, Aldridge was asked to play a reserve role. “It’s very difficult,” Aldridge said of the adjustment. “You’ve been a certain type of player your whole career. It’s definitely different coming off the bench and not playing much. I’m still trying to figure it out and navigate it and find my spots.
“It’s an ongoing battle. It’s still tough to not start at times. But I said I came back to win, and I wanted to be here to try to win it all. So if that’s my role, it is what it is.”
Down 11 at halftime and struggling on offense against the Cavaliers Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Nets coach Steve Nash started Aldridge at center in the second half in place of ice-cold Blake Griffin, and he stepped up in a big way to score 21 points and grab 11 rebounds in a 117-112 victory. The Nets (13-5) now are 10-1 when Aldridge scores in double figures.