The somber Portland Trail Blazers found it difficult to celebrate a victory after losing Greg Oden.
Brandon Roy had 28 points and scored the winning basket to help Portland beat Houston 90-89 on Saturday night, but the Blazers were both solemn and resolute with the probable season-ending injury to Oden in the first quarter.
“I told everyone in the locker room I felt this was like a punch to the gut,” said Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard, who selected Oden No. 1 in the 2007 draft.
Oden fractured his left kneecap while jumping to defend Aaron Brooks. The former No. 1 draft pick was carried off the floor on a stretcher. Oden will undergo surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season, Blazers spokeswoman Cheri Hanson said.
Oden collapsed to the floor clutching his knee and grimacing in pain midway through the first quarter. Oden’s knee did not appear to make any contact with Brooks. Play was stopped for 7 minutes while the 7-footer was tended to. He was wheeled from the court and underwent an MRI.
“I went initially to help him up,” Roy said. “Then I saw him and he was yelling, and I thought, “This is serious.’ I almost panicked. I wanted to be like,’ Stop the game!”‘
Carl Landry led Houston with 23 points, and Luis Scola had 21. The Rockets came into the game with a three-game road winning streak and they led 87-86 with 37 seconds left after Landry made two free throws.
Roy answered with a fadeaway jumper from the free-throw line to put the Blazers up, but Scola gave the Rockets back the lead with 9.1 seconds on a 20-footer. Roy took the ball at the top of the key and drove down the middle for winning basket with 3.2 seconds left. Brooks missed on the other end as time expired.
“We couldn’t get a stop there in the last 2 minutes,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “We had a great chance to win.”
Portland was already short-handed going into the game, with guard-forward Rudy Fernandez sitting out with a back injury and Travis Outlaw sidelined by a broken foot.
After Oden went out, Houston opened up a 48-36 led in the second quarter. The Blazers went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to three at halftime.
There the Blazers met with Oden, who was very emotional and apologized for getting hurt, his teammates said.
“He told us to keep fighting,” Roy said. “Greg feels he is letting us down.”
The Rockets appeared to be running away with the game when they took a 15-point lead in the third quarter after a 12-0 run. But Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer to start a Blazer rally. Andre Miller, who had 16 of his 24 points in the quarter scored 10 of Portland’s next 12 points to get the Blazers to 61-60.
The Blazers took a 70-69 lead in the fourth on a pullup jumper by Jerryd Bayless. Budinger tied it at 74 with a 3-pointer for the Rockets.
Bayless had 13 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The road ahead looks rocky for Portland, which embarks on a four-game Eastern Conference swing Monday with only nine healthy players and without coach Nate McMillan, who will undergo surgery Monday to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. McMillan was injured while participating in practice for the short-handed Blazers. Assistant Dean Demopoulos will coach the team during the trip.
NOTES: Brooks had just six points and five assists after averaging 22.6 points and 5.3 assists over his last three games. Brooks torched the Blazers with 28 points and eight assists in a 111-107 win Oct. 31. … Portland beat the Rockets 96-87 on opening night. … Portland’s Joel Przybilla had a game-high 12 rebounds.