Notebook: Mills could soon return, Aldridge likely out one more game
PORTLAND — Patty Mills could soon again be wearing black and red for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mills poured in 38 points and added 12 assists in his first game for Portland’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede.
Mills, who shot 7 of 10 from behind the 3-point line, led the Stampede to a 123-109 road win over the Reno Bighorns on Friday.
“He looked fantastic (Friday). And that’s nice to see,” said Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard, prior to Portland’s game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at the Rose Garden. “He’s not shy. He’ll put it up.”
The Blazers re-assigned Mills to Idaho on Tuesday. But Pritchard said Portland is heavily considering bringing Mills back to the team, now that guard Steve Blake has been hospitalized with pneumonia and is out indefinitely.
Mills could re-join the Blazers as early as the middle of next week, and possibly suit up for next Tuesday’s road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
If Portland does decide to bring Mills back, the process could happen within 24 hours.
“It’s probably the right thing to look at him coming up here the next couple days,” Pritchard said.
Blazers coach Nate McMillan said that Mills’ game is based off quickness and his ability to create scoring opportunities out of pick-and-roll sets.
“We know he has speed,” McMillan said. “I’ve seen him play with the Olympic team.”
Mills was chosen by Portland out of St. Mary’s with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
He missed the team’s first 33 games of the season while recovering from foot surgery.
Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge said it is highly unlikely he will play in Tuesday’s road game against the Clippers.
Aldridge, who is recovering from a left ankle sprain, did not play in Saturday’s contest versus the Warriors.
Aldridge said his ankle feels better, but added that he is not yet ready to run. He feels that he needs at least two more days of recovery and treatment to be healthy enough to play.
Asked if there was a chance he could take the court against the Clippers, he said, “No. I don’t think so. That’s a big turnaround to play in that game.”
Aldridge added that he and the team would rather be safe than sorry in regards to his return.
“You don’t want to come back too fast and cut on it and make it worse,” Aldridge said. “When you injure something for the second time, it’s always worse.”
Ready to go
Rookie forward Jeff Pendergraph replaced Aldridge in Portland’s starting lineup on Saturday. In doing so, Pendergraph recorded his first-ever NBA start.
“It kind of means a lot,” Pendergraph said. “But I just like to play, so it just means that I get in the game sooner than later.”
Pendergraph averaged 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds heading into Saturday’s game.
Despite missing the first 29 games of the season while recovering from hip surgery, the former Arizona State standout has made an immediate contribution for the Blazers. He recorded a career-high 14 rebounds and eight points during Portland’s 103-99 win over the Clippers on Wednesday.
McMillan said Pendergraph is playing within himself, and that his energy and selflessness have been keys to his early success. In addition, the rookie forward has impressed McMillan by “playing bigger” and holding his own against opposing forwards and centers.
“He doesn’t have to score,” McMillan said. “But you can defend; you can set screens; you can rebound. All of that is about the mindset of going out and doing it.”
Blazers assistant coach Maurice Lucas returned home for the holidays.
Lucas finished a six-week period in which he was hospitalized while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for bladder cancer.
“He’s doing OK.” McMillan said. “He’s at home, resting.”
McMillan stated that, while Lucas’ health is still an issue, the fact that the former Blazers forward is back home is a positive sign.
Lucas, 57, played five seasons for Portland. He was a key member of the 1976-77 team that captured the franchise’s lone NBA Championship.
Lucas planned to hold an active role coaching with the Blazers this season. But after undergoing surgery last year to remove the cancer, Lucas’ illness flared up again in November.