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21 March 2017, 12:23 | Charlene Valdez
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard tries to work the ball between Atlanta Hawks defenders Dwight Howard and Thabo Sefolosha. – AP
Damian Lillard scored 36 points and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 110-106 on Wednesday night, spoiling LaMarcus Aldridge's return from a health scare.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Aldridge for the way he handled the adversity. The Spurs medical staff led a process that included multiple tests and examinations, according to a press release. The Spurs host Aldridge's former club, the Portland Trail Blazers, on Wednesday.
"'We are thankful that LaMarcus will be able to rejoin the team, ' said Spurs General Manager RC Buford". "All of us have been impressed with the professionalism and the grace he has shown in dealing with this hard situation".
Kawhi Leonard poured in 31 points to lead four team mates in double-figure scoring as the San Antonio Spurs played through a season-high 23 turnovers and defeated the Atlanta Hawks 107-99 at the AT&T Center. "I was born with a heart condition", Aldridge said in a video in 2015.
"He has dealt with this all year long, which nobody really knew about", Popovich said. "He's shown a lot of class and a lot of fortitude in the way he's done it all". "To beat a team like San Antonio on the road, and not only that, but how we won, I thought it was one of our better games as far as staying focused throughout the game".
Over the course of 32.6 minutes per game in 2016-2017, Aldridge is now averaging 17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, an even two assists and 1.1 blocks per outing.
At the end of his rookie season with the Trail Blazers in April 2007, Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat.
Leonard had 34 points in the game including two monster dunks in the second half.
The Spurs desperately needs LaMarcus Aldridge to be healthy and ready if they are going to leap and overtake the struggling Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. Aldridge is the team's second-best player and gives them a post-up weapon they'll need in the playoffs.
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