It was all the dare the Trail Blazers forward would need. He scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half and the Trail Blazers came from behind to beat the Sacramento Kings 95-88 on Tuesday night.
"In the second half they kind of forgot about me and I was able to be more aggressive in going to the basket," he said.
Aldridge pulled the Blazers to 81-all midway through the final quarter with an alley-oop layup. But Portland was unable to go ahead until his layup made it 86-85 with 3:02 left.
Aldridge hit yet another layup and added a free throw to give Portland an 89-85 cushion with 1:37 left.
Rookie Tyreke Evans had 19 points and Thompson added 18 for the Kings, who lost their seventh straight on the road.
Brandon Roy had 25 points and a season-high 10 assists for Portland, which snapped a two-game skid.
"I'm just extremely disappointed," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We did not play smart basketball in the fourth quarter. We didn't do anything we had been doing the first three quarters to get that lead."
Aldridge, who added nine rebounds, eight in the second half, went into the game with a sore right ankle and even left the floor for a time in the first half.
"I twisted it like twice tonight," he said.
The sight of Aldridge limping was disconcerting for the Blazers, who already have a lengthy injured list.
Starting forward Nicolas Batum was lost just before the start of the season because of shoulder surgery, forward Travis Outlaw fractured his left foot in mid-November and forward Rudy Fernandez had a procedure on his back to alleviate leg pain earlier this month.
Center Greg Oden broke his left kneecap during a game against Houston on Dec. 5. The 7-foot former No. 1 draft pick underwent surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
Even McMillan's ankle was in a cast after he had to have surgery for a ruptured Achilles' tendon. He hurt his ankle when he stepped in to practice with his injury-depleted team on Dec. 4.
McMillan returned Tuesday night after missing the team's recent road trip because of the injury. Assistant Dean Demopoulos stood in for him.
"We needed a win," McMillan said. "For us, we can't make a lot of mistakes because of the depth that we have and the personnel that we have. We have to play almost flawless ball. We've got to outhustle you, outwork you and keep believing in ourselves."
Portland led by as many as nine points in the first quarter but the young Kings came back in the second, and took a 36-33 lead on Spencer Hawes' bank shot.
The Kings pushed the lead to 51-40 on former Blazer Ime Udoka's 3-pointer late in the first half.
The Blazers chipped away in the third quarter, tying it at 56 on Aldridge's dunk. Portland went up 62-60 on Martell Webster's dunk.
Portland's lead was short-lived, and Sacramento went up 69-66 on Thompson's jumper, then extended it with Evans' layup and Omri Casspi's dunk.
Sacramento had a 73-66 lead going into the final quarter, but Portland narrowed it to 78-76 on Jerryd Bayless' layup. The Blazers could have come closer a short time later but Bayless missed one of two free throws.
Portland narrowed it again to 81-79 on Roy's layup, then pulled even with Aldridge's alley-oop layup.
Blake came off the bench for the first time since Nov. 3, 2007.
In addition to Batum, Outlaw, Fernandez and Oden, Blazers rookies Patty Mills (right foot) and Jeff Pendergraph (hip) are also injured. With the exception of Oden, all watched from the Blazers bench on Tuesday night in street clothes. ... Roy has had 23 or more points in each of the last seven games. ... Aldridge had a season-high five assists.