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

player.

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

rehabilitation.

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.