It’s unclear if either guard will be available Friday night when the Northwest Division rivals meet for the second time this season.
Roy started every game for Portland (19-12) before missing Wednesday’s 98-94 win at San Antonio with a left shoulder problem. The All-Star guard averages a team-high 22.2 points, and an MRI on the shoulder did not reveal any tears Thursday.
Billups has missed the last three games for Denver (20-9) with a groin strain, but he could be back Friday. The former NBA finals MVP worked out before Wednesday’s 124-104 home win over Atlanta and believes he is close to returning.
“It’s basically a game-time decision,” Billups told the Nuggets’ official Web site. “I’m definitely feeling better. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t even think about playing.”
Portland and Denver both finished with 54-28 records a season ago, with the Nuggets winning the division due to a tiebreaker. The Trail Blazers, though, have more injury problems besides Roy.
Centers Greg Oden(notes) and Joel Przybilla(notes) are both out for the season. Oden was already out with a left knee injury before the Trail Blazers announced Thursday that Przybilla had season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured right patella tendon suffered in Tuesday’s win at Dallas.
Veteran Juwan Howard(notes) made his first start in the middle in Wednesday’s win and had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Howard has logged more than 30 minutes the last two games for the first time all season.
The Trail Blazers and Nuggets both had players that are normally backups step up Wednesday in the absence of Roy and Billups.
Second-year guard Jerryd Bayless(notes) made his first career start a memorable one with a career-high 31 points to key Portland’s third straight win. Bayless scored a total of 25 points over his three previous games.
“Even with Brandon and with all these injuries - and we need Brandon back - I think we can still win games,” Bayless said.
Denver won for the first time with Billups out thanks in part to reserve J.R. Smith’s(notes) season-high 41 points Wednesday. Smith made 10 3-pointers - one shy of his franchise record set April 13 against Sacramento.
“It’s great to have a player that can take over and end a game like J.R. has done,” coach George Karl said. “There’s no question he was in a zone, but we need J.R. to be the complete player and work on other aspects of his game.”
Roy led the Blazers with 30 points in that game.
Denver has lost four straight on the road while Portland has won its last three at home.