Playing the first back-to-back of his career, the former No. 1 draft pick followed his first double-double with 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes. Roy then closed things out in the Blazers’ 88-83 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
“The guys were like, ‘You killed in college, you can do it here,”’ said Oden, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and six games this one with a sprained foot. “I knew if I kept working it would come.”
Roy, who was originally chosen by the Timberwolves but traded for Randy Foye on draft night, scored 24 points for the Blazers, including a driving layup and a fast-break dunk in the closing minute that gave them the lead for good.
But it was Oden’s performance on the heels of an 11-point, 11-rebound game against New Orleans that had Roy excited for this team’s immediate future.
“That was just a taste of it,” Roy said. “He didn’t give you the whole meal, it was just a taste of what he’s going to do.”
Al Jefferson had 26 points and six rebounds for the Timberwolves (1-7), who have lost seven in a row since an opening night victory over Sacramento.
It was a familiar formula for the Wolves. They led by 12 points with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the third quarter, but let a double-digit lead slip away for the fourth time this season. Five of their last six losses have been by five points or less.
“It’s like groundhog day,” coach Randy Wittman said.
Jefferson made eight of his first nine shots, having little trouble shooting under, over or around Portland’s skyline of a front—with the 7-foot-1 Joel Przybilla, the 7-foot Oden and 6-11 LaMarcus Aldridge all taking a crack at him.
His reverse layup gave the Wolves a 10-point lead less than 2 minutes into the second half, but it was mostly downhill from there.
Sergio Rodriguez’s 3-pointer to open the fourth cut the lead to 71-68, and Oden ripped the ball from Jefferson on the low block to start a break finished by a jumper from Steve Blake to tie it at 77 with 3:52 to play.
Oden then threw down a dunk in transition to give Portland an 81-79 lead with 2:58 to go, its first lead since the opening of the second quarter.
“He seems to be getting his confidence and getting his feel for playing with our guys,” coach Nate McMillan said. “And our guys are getting used to playing with him.”
This one will sting just a little bit more for the Wolves.
The Foye-Roy trade has been heavily scrutinized in the Twin Cities, largely because Roy has emerged as a bona fide star and one of the rising clutch players in the game.
Foye, meanwhile, was benched for Sebastian Telfair four games ago and still hasn’t fulfilled the promise he had coming out of Villanova.
Foye finished with 10 points, four rebounds and three turnovers, including the crucial one with his team down 84-83 to Roy turned into a breakaway dunk.
Wittman wasn’t so much concerned about the final minutes as he was by some selfish play in the third quarter that allowed Portland to creep back in.
The coach refused to single any one out, but reserve guard Rashad McCants appeared to be particularly guilty. McCants took nine shots—most of them ill-advised—in nine minutes. He was quickly yanked in the third quarter when he missed a wild turnaround jumper, then jacked up a 3-pointer early in the shot clock on the next possession.
“When I have to substitute because guys don’t want to play the right way, we’re not going to win close games,” Wittman said. “That’s going to come back to bite you every time.
“It’s not the last five minutes, because if you took care of your business in a team manner, a 10-point lead at halftime might be 15.”
Telfair collided with Blake in the third quarter and came up spitting up blood. He returned in the fourth. … Wolves C Jason Collins made his season debut. He missed most of the preseason and the first five games with an elbow injury after a freak golf cart accident. … Roy scored at least 20 points for the fifth straight game.