When the Trail Blazers go from their 13th-consecutive victory versus the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night at the Moda Center (7:30 p.m. on TNT and 620 AM), they will be doing so without starting forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who is out after suffered a right ankle sprain during Portland’s 112-103 overtime loss to the Jazz in Utah Wednesday night.
Aminu rolled his right ankle late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game at Vivant Smarthome Arena and did not return after subbing out at the 2:03 mark. X-rays conducted at the arena on Aminu’s ankle came back negative, though the swelling was noticeable after the game.
“It’s always annoying not being 100 percent,” said Aminu, who also injured his left wrist Wednesday night. “It’s a part of the game and everything happens for a reason.”
Aminu left the locker room in Utah with a considerable limp while wearing a walking boot on his right leg, indicating there was little chance he would play Thursday night even before the official announcement.
The 6-9 forward in his eighth season out of Wake Forest is averaging 9.4 points on 43 percent shooting from both the field and from three, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in 30.1 minutes through eight games this season. By far the team’s best defender, Aminu has been integral in Portland’s early-season improvement on that side of the ball while also serving as one of their more accurate three-point shooters.
“We missed (Aminu) tonight,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts after Wednesday night’s loss. “Whether we had him or not, who knows if we win or lose but he’s an important part of our team. He’s shown that for two years.”
Case in point: According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com, the Trail Blazers are 28 points per 100 possessions better with Aminu on the floor this season.
After playing and starting all 82 games in his first season with the Trail Blazers, Aminu missed 21 games last season with various injuries last year, the most severe being a quad injury that sidelined the forward for 18 games early in the 2016-17 season.
Forward Noah Vonleh, who played in his first game of the season Wednesday night after missing most of training camp, all of preseason and the first seven games of the regular season with a right shoulder injury, is listed as the starter on the most recent games notes. Vonleh replaced Aminu when he was sidelined with injuries last season, going on to start 41 games.