Trail Blazers 102, Pacers 91

The Portland Trail Blazers can’t afford to lose any more players

– or coaches.

Despite having only nine active players and missing coach Nate

McMillan, the Trail Blazers got 29 points from Brandon Roy and beat

the Indiana Pacers 102-91 on Wednesday night.

Portland’s laundry list of injuries includes center and

Indianapolis native Greg Oden (left knee), guard Rudy Fernandez

(sciatic pain) and forward Travis Outlaw (left foot). McMillan, who

didn’t travel, had surgery on his right Achilles’ tendon after

injuring it during a team practice Dec. 4.

“That’s just the type of guy Nate is,” said Roy, who added

seven rebounds and five assists. “We were down a lot of bodies

that day, he wants to get out there and play. It’s just too bad his

body couldn’t hold up. It says a lot, though. He cares about this

team.”

Trail Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos, who’s assuming head

coaching duties while McMillan recovers, plans to teach from the

sideline.

“Even when I was young enough, I wasn’t good enough,”

Demopoulos joked. “I’m 10 or 11 years older than Nate. I’d blow

both Achilles’ out.”

Demopoulos and the Trail Blazers didn’t need a full complement

of players to beat the struggling Pacers. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20

points and eight rebounds, and Andre Miller scored 15 for Portland

(14-9), which snapped a four-game road losing streak.

“When you talk about team wins, this is the essence of team,”

Demopoulos said. “Everyone stepped up, held hands and collectively

got it done.”

The Pacers, on the other hand, continued their downward spiral.

Dahntay Jones had 19 points and rookie Tyler Hansbrough added 13

points and 11 rebounds for Indiana (6-13), losers of six

straight.

The Pacers played without injured All-Star Danny Granger, who is

expected to miss at least four weeks with a torn right plantar

fascia. The team’s leading scorer won’t require surgery.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” Jones said. “Losing is not

fun.”

The Pacers, who trailed by 11 in the first half, tied the score

at 83 on Luther Head’s jumper with 8 minutes left in the fourth

quarter. Portland used an 8-2 run, capped by Miller’s layup, to

take a 100-91 lead. Roy had consecutive baskets to spark the

rally.

“I could almost fall asleep when he’s got the ball,”

Demopoulos said of Roy. “That’s how comfortable I feel with him.

He always comes through.”

The Trail Blazers shot nearly 53 percent in the first quarter

and opened their biggest lead, 26-15, on Roy’s 3-pointer. Indiana

got within four late in the second, but Aldridge’s two free throws

pushed the lead back to 52-45 at the break.

“We didn’t play consistent basketball,” Pacers coach Jim

O’Brien said. “We can’t play two and a half quarters of good

basketball and one and a half quarters of sub-par basketball.”

Aldridge was impressed with the Trail Blazers’ ability to play

short-handed.

“I don’t see it as overly tough,” he said. “If we come out

and play hard, I feel like we have enough guys to win now. We have

to live in the moment.”

NOTES: Oden could miss the rest of the season after having

surgery on his left knee. … McMillan is not expected to coach the

team’s next two games at Cleveland and Milwaukee. … The Pacers

have lost 10 of 11 after winning five straight.