Despite a series of major injuries, the Portland Trail Blazers have won five games in a row and are 25-20.
PORTLAND — Coach Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers dreads hearing his phone ring first thing in the morning because it usually means bad news, such as another injury.
McMillan, a former Sonics guard and coach, has had quite a few of those calls. They haven’t let up since early in the season. It has become so bad some fans are calling McMillan’s team the “Frail Blazers.”
Portland has been besieged with injuries — particularly knee injuries — since last season. But somehow the team has managed to win.
The Blazers have won five in a row, their longest winning streak of the season, to push their record to 25-20 and five games over .500, also a season high.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Report: Seahawks turn attention away from Jadeveon Clowney and toward Everson Griffen and Clay Matthews
- 2019 Puyallup High School grad dies after being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications
- Armed robbery charges against Seahawks' Quinton Dunbar dropped due to 'insufficient evidence'
- Washington, D.C.'s NFL team changed its racist mascot. Now, a push for change in Washington state schools. VIEW
- Led by Sue Bird, WNBA players wear shirts in support of Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler's Senate opponent
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” guard Wesley Matthews said Saturday night after the Blazers overcame a 16-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 97-92.
The latest casualty was starting point guard Andre Miller, who missed the game because of a stomach ailment. The Blazers scrambled, thrusting Matthews and swingman Rudy Fernandez into unaccustomed roles.
It capped a rough week for Portland.
Three-time All-Star Brandon Roy, a former standout for the Washington Huskies and Garfield High School in Seattle, had arthroscopic surgery on both knees last Monday. His return is uncertain, but Roy appeared Saturday night at the Rose Garden and proclaimed he would like to get back this season.
He also said he will follow the advice of the team doctors.
“It’s tough sitting out,” Roy said. “It’s just tough not doing anything. I just asked, ‘Can I jog? Can I do this?’ Not today. So I’m just trying to be patient. I don’t like not doing much. Biggest thing is, I’m going to ask them every day but just try to be as patient as I can.”
Roy played in pain this season because of what he said is a lack of cartilage in the knees. He has averaged 16.6 points and 3.3 assists in 23 games. For his career, the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year averages 19.9 points and 4.9 assists.
Last season, Roy had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee two days before the Blazers opened their first-round playoff series against Phoenix. He came back and played in the fourth game of the best-of-seven series, which the Suns won in six. Some have suggested Roy returned too soon.
On Thursday, center Marcus Camby had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Team officials said Camby could return in three weeks. He averages 5.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.87 blocks and also provides leadership.
In November, it was announced center Greg Oden, the No. 1 draft pick in 2007, would miss the season because of microfracture surgery on his left knee. Oden missed his rookie year because of microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Second-year forward Jeff Pendergraph injured his knee during the exhibition season and required season-ending surgery. And rookie guard Elliot Williams has had surgery this season on both knees.
Last season, Portland players missed a combined 311 regular-season games because of injury, second to the Golden State Warriors and most among playoff teams.
“Every time you suit up and you hear a key guy’s not playing, it’s like, ‘Man, what are we going to do now?’ ” power forward LaMarcus Aldridge said.
Aldridge is a big reason the Blazers have been effective. He is averaging 26.9 points and 10.2 rebounds this month and has 21 double-doubles this season.
“I think a lot of people were counting them out and not talking much about them,” Roy said of the Blazers who are healthy enough to play. “(But) they’re doing a great job of just sticking together and going out there and putting together wins.”
• In Sunday’s only game, Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points to lead the host Denver Nuggets to a 121-107 victory over Indiana, which has lost five in a row.
Anthony made a career-high six three-point baskets, all during his 23-point third quarter. He was cheered by the home crowd, a departure from last week — when trade speculation surrounded Anthony.
On Wednesday, New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov ordered his franchise to end lengthy negotiations with the Nuggets and “walk away from the deal.”
• Miami’s Dwyane Wade missed Saturday’s 120-103 victory over Toronto because of a migraine. Mike Miller, who started in his place, had 32 points and 10 rebounds. After the game, Wade was healthy enough to write on Twitter: “Dwyane who?”