After being plagued by injuries over the first two months of the season, the Portland Trail Blazers were hoping for a healthy 2010. Instead, they’ll likely be without two more regulars in their first game of the new year.
The injury-depleted Trail Blazers are expected to be without Steve Blake(notes) and LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) on Saturday night when they host a last-place Golden State Warriors team that’s playing some of its best basketball of the season.
Portland (21-13) has been without guard-forward Rudy Fernandez(notes) (back) and forwards Travis Outlaw(notes) (left foot) and Nicolas Batum(notes) (shoulder) at times in 2009-10. The center position has been the hardest hit with Joel Przybilla(notes) and Greg Oden(notes) both out for the season with knee injuries.
Things have incredibly gotten even worse. Aldridge sprained his left ankle in Wednesday’s 103-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers while Blake was hospitalized with pneumonia on Friday.
Aldridge was wearing a boot following Wednesday’s loss and is listed as doubtful, while Blake is expected to remain in the hospital for several days.
“This has gone past crazy,” said Portland coach Nate McMillan, who’s also failed to escape injury after rupturing an Achilles tendon last month in practice. “It’s bad luck, or whatever, to continue to see our guys drop the way that we are.”
Despite all the Blazers have been through, they’ve won seven of nine and are within percentage points of Northwest Division-leading Denver.
Brandon Roy(notes) has helped put Portland in this position by carrying the team through this difficult stretch. The two-time All-Star had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists against the Clippers, and is averaging 29.0 points in his last six games - 6.1 better than his season average.
But Roy had one of his worst shooting games of the season in a 108-94 loss to Golden State on Nov. 20, finishing with 17 points on 6 of 17 from the floor. He wasn’t the only Blazer to struggle, as Portland had trouble keeping up with the Warriors’ up-tempo offense, which finished with 36 fast-break points.
Golden State (9-22) averages a league-best 23.6 fast-break points, while Portland averages a league-worst 7.5 points in that category.
That high-paced offense put the Western Conference-best Los Angeles Lakers to the test Tuesday, but the Warriors came up just short and lost 124-118. That followed last Saturday’s 132-127 win over Phoenix, and Monday’s 103-99 victory over Atlantic Division-leading Boston.
Biedrins, who finished with six points and eight rebounds Tuesday, has played in two games after missing 24 with a right groin injury. Turiaf, who had seven points and five blocked shots against the Lakers, has appeared in three contests after sitting out 12 with a sprained left knee.
Although the Warriors are finally getting healthy in the post, Ellis still leads the offense.
He had 22 points Tuesday after averaging 35.0 points on 54.4 percent shooting in his previous three games. Ellis, who is sixth in the league with a 25.5-scoring average, had a game-high 34 against the Blazers in November.
The Warriors have won five of six over Portland, but all those victories have come at home. The Blazers have won four of the last five meetings at the Rose Garden, where they’re 11-3 since Nov. 6.