Despite being beset by injuries, the Portland Trail Blazers have reached the midway point of the season in the thick of the Northwest Division race.
The Washington Wizards have also had to take the court without some of their top players, but their season is going nowhere.
Roy strained his right hamstring in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 120-108 victory over Milwaukee, joining an already long list of injured players for the Trail Blazers (25-16). Portland has lost both Greg Oden(notes) and Joel Przybilla(notes) for the season, and it’s still awaiting the return of forwards Travis Outlaw(notes) and Nicolas Batum(notes).
Roy, who leads the Blazers with 23.4 points and 5.1 assists per game, has shouldered a heavy load for his injury-depleted team, which is just 1 1/2 games back of Northwest-leading Denver. The Blazers played without Roy in Friday’s 102-87 win over Orlando, and several players stepped up in the absence of the two-time All-Star.
Martell Webster(notes) picked up the scoring slack with 24 points and added nine rebounds. Steve Blake(notes) had 18 points and six assists, while Andre Miller(notes) finished with 19 points and nine assists.
“Tenacious, resilient,” Webster said about the Blazers. “Guys are just night in and night out putting forth their best effort. We have to compensate for a lot, and we’ve done a great job doing that.”
Although Roy’s injury isn’t considered serious - he’s listed as day-to-day - Portland proved it can beat one of the league’s best teams without its best player.
“It lets you know that we may be wounded but we are not out of the fight,” Webster said. “We are going to continue to fight and do the things we have to do, because we know we are the underdog every time we go out.”
The Wizards (13-26) are in a similar position, but they haven’t been finding as much success.
Washington, which opened this season without Antawn Jamison(notes) (right shoulder) and is currently missing Mike Miller(notes) (torn calf muscle), is 2-4 since Gilbert Arenas(notes) was suspended indefinitely by the NBA for bringing guns to the Verizon Center. The three-time All-Star pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge Friday and will find out at his March 26 sentencing if he has to serve any jail time.
One day after Arenas appeared in court, the Wizards - owners of one of the worst records in the NBA - opened a six-game homestand with a 96-86 victory over Sacramento, snapping a four-game skid. Jamison and Caron Butler(notes) combined for 12 points in a game-ending 13-4 run.
Butler finished with 19 points and Jamison had 14, leading five Washington players in double figures.
Building on this win won’t be easy, though, as the Wizards are just 5-17 against teams with winning records.
Washington has also lost three straight to the Blazers and six of the last seven meetings.