Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan is supposed to be back on the bench Tuesday night, but his return from surgery can only do so much for his injury-plagued team.
Back home following a disappointing eastern trip, the Trail Blazers look to snap a two-game slide with their fourth straight victory over the Sacramento Kings.
With not enough healthy players available for a 5-on-5 scrimmage, McMillan participated in a Dec. 4 practice and ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon. He underwent surgery last Monday.
Assistant Dean Demopoulos served as Portland’s head coach during a 1-3 trip that ended with Saturday’s 108-101 double-overtime loss to Milwaukee. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) scored a season-high 31 points, including six straight in the first overtime, but Portland (14-11) was unable to close out the Bucks.
“We were just trying to hold on to it,” Aldridge said. “We knew everybody was getting tired. They just made more plays and that was the game.”
Brandon Roy(notes) had a chance to end the game but he couldn’t knock down an 11-footer at the conclusion of the first overtime. Roy missed 16 of 24 from the field and finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
“We had our chances to win that game,” Roy told the Trail Blazers’ official Web site. “I had a shot at the buzzer and then in overtime we had a six- point lead. We just didn’t hang on to it.
With Rudy Fernandez(notes) out for up to six weeks after undergoing a procedure to alleviate nerve pressure in his right leg, Greg Oden(notes) gone for the season with a left patella fracture and Nicolas Batum(notes) (shoulder), Travis Outlaw(notes) (foot), Jeff Pendergraph(notes) (left hip), and Patrick Mills(notes) (right foot) all nursing injuries, the Trail Blazers will look to get back on track at the Rose Garden, where they’ve won seven of nine.
Sacramento (10-12) makes its first visit to Portland since a 109-77 loss Dec. 16. Roy scored 29 points, Aldridge added 15 and 10 rebounds and the Trail Blazers held the Kings to 31.6 percent shooting as they swept the season series for the first time since 1999-2000.
Sacramento, however, is a far different team than the one that finished a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2008-09. The Kings improved to 10-12 with Saturday’s 120-100 victory over Minnesota.
It took the Kings 40 games to notch their 10th victory last season, and coach Paul Westphal is trusting his young players more. Sacramento broke open the game with a 29-11 third-quarter run after he decided against calling a timeout.
“You can’t always do that with a young team, but I thought it was a good time to try and let them figure it out,” Westphal said. “I had confidence they would make things happen.”
Second-year forward Jason Thompson(notes) and rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) have been two of the Kings’ most reliable players this season. Thompson posted his seventh double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds while Evans scored 18 points with five boards and five assists.
The Kings, who have lost six straight on the road, have dropped back-to-back games in Portland since a 105-94 victory Feb. 19, 2008.