Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/11/13
Portland Trail Blazers’ center Robin Lopez does so many things that don’t get credit on the stat sheet. His vocal presence on the floor along with his defensive awareness has made a huge impression on his teammates. If you ask All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Lopez is the main reason why he has become a better defensive player this season. “I told you once I got a big man, I would feel more comfortable to try be more aggressive defensively, blocking shots and being more active.” Aldridge said. “And now I have Rob, and he’s learning me as far as when I take chances. He’s covering my back.” Saturday night in a 96-85 win over the Sacramento Kings, their second win in as many nights versus this team, Lopez didn’t have anyone covering his back. But it was designed to go that way. Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said the plan was not to send help on DeMarcus Cousins, who ended the contest with a game-high 33 points with the addition of 12 rebounds. Lopez was on an island all by himself, yet still played him relatively well despite Cousins shooting 13-of-24 from the field. That game plan allowed Portland to stay on the shooters Cousins is surrounded with. Thus, the likes of Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette combined to go four-for-17. And as a team, they shot 25 percent from downtown. It worked. “I’m happy coach and my teammates have confidence in me to take on that assignment,” Lopez said. “He’s (Cousins) going to get his unless he has a terrible night. I think the benefits outweigh the cons. You let him go off, but on the flip side, we’re not giving up any three-pointers. That was big.” When the Kings were attempting to make their comeback down the stretch, there was a play when Cousins made a move to the basket and Lopez fouled him hard. Cousins then swung his elbows out and Lopez took exception. Immediately Lopez got into his face and teammates had to separate the two. There are not may players in this league that are willing to start something with Cousins. Lopez took it there, but he knew what he was doing.
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