Blazers must be coy with Roy

SHAWN CLARKE, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 1:47 PM ET

Watching Kevin Durant light up the league on a nightly basis has to be eating at Portland Trail Blazers executives.

They had a chance to draft the scoring machine out of Texas, but decided that bigger was better and wasted a No. 1 overall pick on Greg Oden. The statute of limitations has passed on Oden, so calling him a bust is reasonable. Heck, the Blazers could have selected Al Horford, Jeff Green or Joakim Noah to solidify the low post and instead made the popular choice in drafting Oden.

While Portland waits for Oden, who hasn't played this season due to a chronic knee problem and appeared in only 21 games last season, it has another health issue to deal with in superstar Brandon Roy. Roy, arguably one of the best pure shooters and floor generals in the Western Conference, has been experiencing pain and swelling in his left knee that was operated on in the summer of 2008. Roy had a procedure performed on the right knee at the end of last season, and now has his head coach in a pickle.

Should head coach Nate McMillan limit his star's time on the floor? Should the team send Roy to a specialist and possibly miss their top player for a major chunk of the 2010-11 campaign?

Those are questions that need addressing now while the season is still somewhat young. Roy has had his knee drained on more than one occasion this season, and the team is counting on fewer minutes for the three-time All-Star to be a wise choice. Roy is leading the way with 19.2 points and played a season-low 20:52 in a win over Detroit. He's had some time to rest his knee and is expected to be in action Friday on the road against Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"We felt like we had the game under control so we didn't bring him back in the second half," McMillan said of Roy. "Rudy (Fernandez) was playing good basketball and just decided to keep him on the bench for the rest of the game. He could have come back."

During an interview on the team's website, Roy stated that watching his minutes is best for his future and the team since missing time would put the Blazers in a bind. He referenced a conversation he had with Portland great Clyde Drexler, who told Roy to work more on his jumper instead beating up his body driving the basket. Roy usually gets the toughest defender from each opponent and was held in check by Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest to the tune of a season-low eight points earlier this season.

Roy had 11 points in the win over the Pistons. He left much of the scoring to LaMarcus Aldridge, who ended with 19 points and 17 rebounds. However, the Blazers will not survive in the tough Western Conference with Aldridge and a gimpy Roy. McMillan has some decisions to make in the next few games.

Portland currently has a slim lead in the Northwest Division over Utah, Oklahoma City and Denver.

GOOD OL' BOYS IN ALAMO CITY GETTING IT DONE

It's too bad the San Antonio Spurs can't play the Los Angeles Clippers all the time. If that were the case, they would flirt with 60 to 70 wins per season.

The Spurs posted their fifth straight win and improved to 6-1 on the young campaign with a 107-95 victory over the Clippers -- their 18th in a row in the series. Two of the teams younger stars, Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili, both scored 22 points to keep the team within striking distance of the 7-0 New Orleans Hornets in the competitive Southwest Division.

San Antonio, which is unbeaten on the road (3-0), improved to 3-1 in games played inside the AT&T Center. Ginobili wasn't proud of the way his teammates performed, but credited a 49.3 shooting percentage as key.

"I don't think we played that well. We shot well so that really helped us, but I think we could have played much better," Ginobili said.

Greybeard Tim Duncan saw 22:07 of action and ended with six points and six rebounds. Duncan was battling flu-like symptoms and even skipped a shootaround Wednesday morning. As long as Duncan's limbs and joints are well-oiled, the Spurs will once again be a threat for one of the top seeds come playoff time.

While Duncan's playing time was limited, Spurs rookie Tiago Splitter played a season-high 15:59 and registered six points, four boards and three blocks. Splitter is expected to be the future for San Antonio's inside game and is learning from perhaps one of the best players in league history. Splitter and the Spurs will try to keep their winning streak intact Saturday versus Philadelphia. In other news regarding Spurs rookies, guard James Anderson has a stress fracture in his right fifth metatarsal.

Anderson is expected to undergo surgery and will miss approximately eight weeks of action. He is averaging 7.0 points, 1.5 assists and 1.0 rebound in 17:36 over six games.

CLIPPERS' DEL NEGRO DEALING WITH LOSSES, INJURIES

You can't blame head coaches for injuries, but you can admonish them for not winning.

Los Angeles Clippers first-year head coach Vinny Del Negro has been through adversity before (i.e. Bulls GM John Paxson) as a player and a coach, and should not feel any added pressure with the current state of affairs in LA.

Del Negro and the Clippers are dealing with several injuries and have played without Eric Gordon, Baron Davis and Chris Kaman recently. All three are near the top in scoring and are expected to miss more time.

"Great experience for the young guys," Del Negro said in reference to other players stepping up. "Hopefully it will make us stronger in the end but we still need our main guys back. We have no easy games. There's no easy games in this league. The guys have been playing hard."

He went on to say how the Bulls took care of business last year without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng or Joakim Noah at times on their way to the postseason. Del Negro added that it's important for everyone to work together. Kaman, meanwhile, won't be working any time soon and is expected to miss two weeks with an injured left ankle. Kaman noted that he had rolled his ankle before, and knew this latest mishap was going to take time to heal.

Leading scorer Gordon, who is averaging a team-high 21.1 points, is dealing with a sore shoulder and is questionable for Friday's game versus Detroit. Guards Davis (knee) and Randy Foye (hamstring) are out indefinitely for the Clippers, who dropped their 18th consecutive contest to San Antonio on Wednesday and are mired in a four-game slide. Los Angeles is 1-3 at home and 0-5 as the visitor this season.

On a brighter note, Blake Griffin is averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds after missing his entire rookie season a year ago. Rasual Butler, Ryan Gomes and Eric Bledsoe are some of the healthy guys Del Negro will be relying on.

ROCKETS OFF TO A DUD IN 2010-11

Maybe the mysterious projectile off the coast of California earlier this week was the Houston Rockets trying to bury their collective heads in outer space.

That's obviously foolish since the team is floundering in the east coast on a current three-game road trip. Off to an inept 1-6 start this season and last place in the Southwest Division, the Rockets have yet to find their niche despite being one of the top scoring teams in the NBA.

A few points head coach Rick Adelman can work on are rebounding, defence and staying out of foul trouble. Even though that's every teams mantra, the Rockets seriously need help in those areas. Even with Yao Ming, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks to name a few, Houston hasn't been able to find solace during its rough schedule. In the Rockets' defence, they've had to endure road games at the Lakers, Warriors and Spurs, while entertaining teams such as Denver and New Orleans.

"Right now, it's just not going for us," Martin told the Houston Chronicle. "We don't think about it too much (during the game). We go out and play basketball. We've been doing it our whole lives. It should be easy."

To make matters worse, Yao sustained a mild sprain of his left ankle during Wednesday's loss at Washington and he's expected to miss the next week or so. An MRI revealed the magnitude of the injury. Already on a strict diet of minutes each night, Yao's presence is always a threat to opposing teams. Scola is the team leader in rebounds with 11.4 rpg and Yao is tied with Chuck Hayes for third with 5.4 rpg.

The Rockets, who have held a lead with under four minutes to go in five of the six losses, will resume their road trip Friday at Indiana. Defending Pacers big man Roy Hibbert may be a problem tonight. They'll close out the trek against the New York Knicks on Sunday.


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