LaMarcus Aldridge will return to Trail Blazers lineup Thursday

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The Trail Blazers need LaMarcus Aldridge back.

Portland is 3-8 in their last 11 and lost to lowly Orlando on Tuesday. They have slid down to fifth in the Western Conference, given up home court in the first round, and now find themselves just two games ahead of nine seed Dallas (tied with 8 seed Phoenix) and the possibility of sliding out of the playoffs completely.

Portland need’s it’s All-Star power forward — and they will get him back Thursday night against Atlanta reports Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

“I’m going,” Aldridge said after shootaround Thursday. “We’ll see how it goes, but I’m going.”

Aldridge missed seven games after a hard fall on his back in a game against the Spurs. What kept him out longer than expected? It hurt to run.

“It’s (running) still not normal but hopefully by tonight, I’ll be used to it or I’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll see what happens tonight or how I’ll look.”

It hasn’t been one thing during Portland’s slide, both their offense and defense have struggled. Aldridge and his 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, his floor spacing on offense and solid play on defense, can help change that.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Thursday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:30pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Portland has 10 games left, four on the road (including the Hawks Thursday) and five against teams over .500. Not a tough schedule, you would think Portland could hold on to its playoff spot. Getting Aldridge back makes that much more likely.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)

Pacers star Victor Oladipo returns from 11-game absence

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When the Pacers ruled Victor Oladipo out indefinitely a couple weeks ago, it seemed gloomy.

But Indiana weathered the storm, going 7-4 without its best player.

Now, Oladipo is back. He started against the Bucks tonight.

I still think the Raptors, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks will comprise the Eastern Conference’s top tier by the end of the season. But the Pacers (17-10, fourth in East) have a chance to crash the party. They acquitted themselves well without Oladipo, and it should get only easier with their offensive focal point/top perimeter defender.

NBA promotes Bulls’ Mexico game with video of their bus bottoming out

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The Bulls will play the Magic in Mexico City tomorrow.

Even amid all Chicago’s problems, that’s still a marquee game for the NBA as it expands its reach globally. So, the league is showcasing Chicago’s trip.

With unintentional hilarity.

NBA:

That sound eight seconds in is Chicago’s season.

Stephen Curry on moon-landing conspiracy: ‘Obviously, I was joking’

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Stephen Curry said he didn’t believe we went to the moon.

That caused an uproar to the point NASA offered him a tour of a lunar lab.

Curry, via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

“One thousand percent,” Curry told ESPN on Wednesday of accepting the invite. “One thousand percent. Obviously I was joking when I was talking on the podcast. I was silently protesting how stupid it was that people actually took that quote and made it law as, ‘Oh my God, he’s a fake moon landing truther,’ whatever you want to call it, yada, yada, yada. So I was silently protesting that part about it, how the story took a life of its own.

“But in terms of the reaction that I’ve gotten, I am definitely going to take [NASA] up on their offer. I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe. But I’m going to go to NASA and I’m going to enjoy the experience whole-heartedly.”

Curry said he believed we didn’t actually go to the moon. I don’t find it unreasonable people took him at face value. I don’t find it unreasonable people thought he was joking, either. His sincerity was unclear.

I’m glad he set the record straight now.

We obviously went to the moon. There’s no way everyone who would’ve had to help fake the moon landing would have stayed quiet. People don’t keep secrets that well.

As for Curry, he got the NASA invitation and a lot of publicity. But it’s time to move on. Whatever he actually believed a few days ago, Curry has clarified his current view.

That separates him from Kyrie Irving, who also initially delivered a conspiracy theory during a lighthearted podcast segment. But Irving doubled down on his flat-Earth claim in several subsequent interviews.

Curry put this to rest fairly quickly.