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Stoudemire, Aldridge Set For Knicks-Blazers Battle

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — The departure of Amar’e Stoudemire to the Eastern Conference may have opened up a possible spot on the Western Conference All-Star team for LaMarcus Aldridge. The fifth-year Portland Trail Blazers big man is certainly playing like one lately.

Aldridge looks to add to his impressive string of performances Tuesday night when the Trail Blazers host Stoudemire’s New York Knicks.

Stoudemire is a five-time All-Star, including appearances the last four seasons – the first four of Aldridge’s career. New York (21-15) is poised to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, with Stoudemire leading the way with averages of 26.3 points and 9.1 rebounds.

His move to the Knicks may also have served to gain Aldridge some notice in the West. Aldridge has never made the All-Star team, but he became the first NBA player in six seasons to post five straight games with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds after he had 31 and 14 in Sunday’s 107-100 overtime loss to Miami.

Shaquille O’Neal had eight straight games with 25 and 10 from Jan. 3-21, 2005, with the Heat.

Aldridge is averaging 27.8 points on 51.9 percent shooting and 11.8 rebounds during this stretch. He’ll renew a rivalry with Stoudemire that was most notable for the power forwards’ matchup in the playoffs last year.

Stoudemire averaged 20.5 points on 54.1 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds in that series as Phoenix won in six games. Aldridge averaged 19.0 points on 43.0 percent shooting and 6.0 boards.

Portland (20-18) has won seven of eight versus New York, spoiling Stoudemire’s Knicks home debut 100-95 on Oct. 30. Aldridge had 20 points and 10 boards while Stoudemire had 18 and five.

The Trail Blazers had Brandon Roy in that game, and are managing to play well without their injured star. They had an eight-game home win streak snapped Sunday for their fourth loss in 12 games overall.

“We lost this game, we gotta move on, we got another game Tuesday,” forward Nicolas Batum said. “New York’s coming to town so we gotta focus on New York now.”

Portland lost for the first time in five home games against East foes. New York, meanwhile, had a nine-game win streak over the West snapped with Sunday’s 109-87 loss to the Lakers.

Stoudemire had 23 points, although he missed 17 of 24 shots, and 10 rebounds. The 17 misses matched his season high when he made 11 of 28 shots Dec. 17 against Miami.

The Knicks, who lead the league with 107.6 points per game, were held below 90 for the second time. They shot a season-low 36.0 percent.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Stoudemire said. “We’re a much better offensive team.”

The game was a physical contest that featured two near-fights. The Lakers had four technical fouls and center Andrew Bynum was ejected.

“Guys got a little chippy out there, but it’s fun to play like that sometimes,” Knicks rookie guard Landry Fields said.

© 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

pixy Stoudemire, Aldridge Set For Knicks Blazers Battle