Stotts does his homework

After the night in Denver when Blazers’ lungs and legs battled through an overtime loss, the team returns to the Rose Garden tonight for a back-to-back game. Four of the starters clocked 40-plus minutes last night, and when you couple that fact with their season averages, you would ask if Nicolas Batum (39.0 mpg), LaMarcus Aldridge (37.9), Wesley Matthews (35.3) and Damian Lillard (38.4) are feeling fatigued.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts, however, came prepared Wednesday night for your inquiry.

During his pregame press conference, Stotts addressed the topic of fatigue and starters’ minutes like he had just studied statistics on

“Again, everybody talks about the minutes of our starters and I went back. You can debate whether our guys deserve to play that many minutes, I think that they do. But a lot of young players, Larry Bird and Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan – all of those guys averaged more than 40 minutes per game. None of our guys are averaging that and they’re all young players.”

Stotts was right. Iverson came out of the gates playing 40 minutes a game and averaged 41.1 through his 13 years in the NBA. Jordan reached the 40 minute-per-game plateau during his third season and remained at the rate for three straight seasons. But Bird – for some reason, Boston rode that 30-year-old for 40.6 mpg during the 1986-1987 season, the highest average of his career.

But you get the point – Stotts’ point.

“So the fact that they’re averaging 38 minutes,” Stotts continued, “I think the minutes that our starters are playing is a convenient topic. If you do your research, almost every young player that’s really important to their team … LeBron James played over 40 minutes a game, so it’s not unusual for young guys to play over 40 minutes a game early in their career.

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