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LaMarcus Aldridge cleared to play after minor heart arrhythmia

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Aldridge's return gives Spurs easier path in playoffs (0:50)

Amin Elhassan says the Spurs have a real chance to be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with LaMarcus Aldridge being cleared to return. (0:50)

SAN ANTONIO -- Forward LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the Spurs' lineup on Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers after missing two games because of a minor heart arrhythmia.

"LaMarcus has been cleared to play," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So we're obviously thrilled about that, but more importantly thrilled that the doctors feel that he's fine in a sense that we're not putting him in danger or anything like that. So that's the most important part."

The Spurs said Aldridge, who is averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, would be available with no restrictions.

The team announced Friday that Aldridge would be out indefinitely after experiencing a minor heart arrhythmia on the heels of its loss at Oklahoma City. He underwent a battery of tests on Friday and Monday at an undisclosed location outside of San Antonio and returned to the team late Monday night.

Popovich mentioned that Aldridge complained of "feeling odd" after the loss on Thursday at Oklahoma City.

Asked what goes through his mind as a coach when told one of his players has a mild arrhythmia, Popovich replied, "Get him to a doctor, and get him checked out. Make sure he's healthy before anything else."

Aldridge's return comes after what the team described as a "process" led by its medical staff, which included multiple tests and examinations, as well as consultations with cardiology experts.

"We are thankful that LaMarcus will be able to rejoin the team," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said in a news release. "All of us have been impressed with the professionalism and grace he has shown in dealing with this difficult situation."

Popovich declined to delve into details regarding Aldridge's condition, but he said the forward has "dealt with this all year long, which nobody really knew about."

"Being a consummate pro, he was able to do everything that was necessary to bring this to some sort of conclusion, and that wasn't easy throughout the year," Popovich said. "He's gone through some procedures and had to do some things that are not pleasant, and he's shown a lot of class and a lot of fortitude in the way he's done it all."

Teammate Patty Mills, who was also a teammate of Aldridge's in Portland, said players were aware that he has had issues all season.

"Yeah, for sure," Mills said. "It's obviously something that him and no one else wants to talk about. He handles it his way, and how he wants to. That's his business. So you just support him as the year goes on."

The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome -- which can cause a rapid heartbeat -- at the end of his rookie season with the Trail Blazers in April 2007. He sat out the final nine games of that season after undergoing a minor procedure to correct the issue.

At the start of the 2011-12 season, he experienced a recurrence, which was discovered during a preseason checkup with a cardiologist -- something he has done every year since he was first diagnosed with WPW -- and he underwent a second radiofrequency catheter ablation.

"We always want people as healthy as they can be," Mills said. "And once they are, then basketball comes back into the picture. Obviously, it's good to have him for tonight."

In other injury news, point guard Tony Parker (back) sat out his fourth straight game Wednesday night. His backup, Dejounte Murray, (groin) was also sidelined.

Kawhi Leonard returned to San Antonio's lineup Monday after missing one game while in the NBA's concussion protocol.

"They're human beings, and they have feelings. They can get injured just like anybody else," said Popovich. "Outside the basketball world, they have families, situations that might thrill them one day and depress them another day just like we all do. They live life the same we do."

The Spurs (52-14) trailed the Golden State Warriors by a half-game for the best record in the Western Conference entering Wednesday.