The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t need Brandon Roy(notes) to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in late December. The Trail Blazers are hoping for a similar result should Roy be unavailable when the teams meet Thursday night at the Rose Garden.
Portland (29-22), which is aiming for a sweep of the three-game season series, has defeated San Antonio (28-19) four consecutive times and five of six after dropping the previous 12 meetings between the teams. One of those wins was the first game missed this season by Roy, who is averaging a team-high 23.1 points with 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds.
Roy was unable to play Dec. 23 due to a sore shoulder, but second-year guard Jerryd Bayless(notes) made his first career start and scored a career-high 31 points with seven assists as the Trail Blazers won 98-94 in San Antonio.
Roy has now missed eight straight games with a strained right hamstring, and his return could be delayed until Saturday when Portland hosts the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bayless has played well while starting the last five games, averaging 14.6 points on 49.1 percent shooting, but the Trail Blazers are 3-5 since Roy was injured Jan. 20 against Philadelphia and have fallen to eighth place in the Western Conference.
“We think about it every day,” LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) said after scoring 27 points with 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s 118-105 loss at Utah. “We know that every game is important and are trying to fight and get back up in the standings.”
Parker, who had 16 points and four assists in the Dec. 23 loss to the Trail Blazers, sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of a 96-84 loss at the Rose Garden on Nov. 6 - the Spurs’ third straight loss in Portland. The three-time All-Star missed four of the next five games.
The second-year guard matched a career high with 23 points and had a career-best nine assists as the Spurs - who play 23 of their final 35 games on the road - opened their season-high eight-game trip with a 115-113 victory at Sacramento on Wednesday.
“George is probably the most improved player in the whole league,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “From his rookie year last year to this year he’s starting to get confident and played well at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be a really fine player for us.”
Tim Duncan(notes) has been a fine player for years. Named a starter to his 12th All-Star game last week, Duncan is more concerned with getting his team back on track after it lost six of nine heading into the trip.
“This is really important because of how bad we have played so far,” said Duncan, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday’s win. “We’re very up and down, losing a lot of games on the road and at home against teams that we should have beaten.”
Duncan is averaging 21.1 points and 10.7 rebounds in 24 career games in Portland. He won’t have to face centers Greg Oden(notes) or Joel Przybilla(notes), who both suffered season-ending knee injuries, but veteran Juwan Howard(notes) has been a solid replacement for the injury-riddled Blazers, averaging 8.3 boards in his last eight games.