Trail Blazers-Pacers Preview
Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, guard Rudy Fernandez
and even coach Nate McMillan required surgery. The only positive
regarding Indiana Pacers star Danny Granger’s injury is that it
won’t require him to go under the knife.
In a matchup of teams that have been significantly hampered by
health problems, the Trail Blazers look to avoid a fifth straight
road loss when they face the Pacers on Wednesday night.
Oden had season-ending surgery Sunday after breaking his left
kneecap in Portland’s 90-89 win over Houston on the previous day.
The Trail Blazers (13-9) were already without Fernandez, who was
scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to relieve pressure from a
nerve in his lower back, along with Travis Outlaw (foot) and
Nicolas Batum (shoulder).
Portland will also be without its coach for the rest of a
four-game trip, which began with a 93-84 loss to New York on Monday
night. McMillan had surgery Monday after rupturing his right
Achilles’ tendon during practice Friday, when he took the floor
because the team was missing so many bodies.
“It’s not normal,” acting coach Dean Demopoulos said. “But life
throws you curveballs sometimes and if you can’t hit a curveball,
you don’t belong here. We’re lacking some really fine basketball
players that are injured right now.”
A once-promising season is now unsettled for the Blazers, losers
of four straight on the road after winning their previous five.
They have lost four of five overall.
While Portland will lean even more on star guard Brandon Roy,
Indiana (6-12) will be missing its own high-scoring wing
The Pacers, who have dropped nine of 10, won’t have Granger for
at least four weeks due to a foot injury. The forward, averaging a
team-high 24.4 points, will not need surgery and is starting
Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said Granger had been playing with in
pain for about six weeks.
“We’re losing an All-Star player,” O’Brien said. “It’s a big
loss. How we deal with it remains to be seen.”
Granger missed a month last season with a torn tendon in the
same foot, with the Pacers going 6-5 during that stretch.
Granger aggravated the injury in the third quarter of an 88-72
loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
The Pacers will need a joint effort to replace Granger’s
scoring. Dahntay Jones averages 15.3 points, and Brandon Rush –
drafted in the first round by Portland in 2008 – will likely get
more playing time.
Indiana’s situation could certainly be worse. Mike Dunleavy,
Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Travis Diener and Tyler Hansbrough have
missed time with injuries, but only Diener (toe), who will miss
three more weeks, remains out from that group.
“Any rash of injuries challenges you,” O’Brien said. “I try to
stay away from the word frustrated. We have games to play. We have
guys who are professional players who have talent and are expected
to step in and help us win.”
Indiana lost its two games against Portland last season after
winning the previous nine meetings.