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Trail Blazers-Pacers Preview

Dec 8, 2009 - 9:27 PM By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA STATS Senior Writer

Portland (13-9) at Indiana (6-12), 7:00 p.m. EDT

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, guard Rudy Fernandez and even coach Nate McMillan required surgery. The only positive regarding Indiana Pacers star Danny Granger's injury is that it won't require him to go under the knife.

In a matchup of teams that have been significantly hampered by health problems, the Trail Blazers look to avoid a fifth straight road loss when they face the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Oden had season-ending surgery Sunday after breaking his left kneecap in Portland's 90-89 win over Houston on the previous day. The Trail Blazers (13-9) were already without Fernandez, who was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to relieve pressure from a nerve in his lower back, along with Travis Outlaw (foot) and Nicolas Batum (shoulder).

Portland will also be without its coach for the rest of a four-game trip, which began with a 93-84 loss to New York on Monday night. McMillan had surgery Monday after rupturing his right Achilles' tendon during practice Friday, when he took the floor because the team was missing so many bodies.

"It's not normal," acting coach Dean Demopoulos said. "But life throws you curveballs sometimes and if you can't hit a curveball, you don't belong here. We're lacking some really fine basketball players that are injured right now."

A once-promising season is now unsettled for the Blazers, losers of four straight on the road after winning their previous five. They have lost four of five overall.

While Portland will lean even more on star guard Brandon Roy, Indiana (6-12) will be missing its own high-scoring wing player.

The Pacers, who have dropped nine of 10, won't have Granger for at least four weeks due to a foot injury. The forward, averaging a team-high 24.4 points, will not need surgery and is starting rehabilitation.

Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said Granger had been playing with in pain for about six weeks.

"We're losing an All-Star player," O'Brien said. "It's a big loss. How we deal with it remains to be seen."

Granger missed a month last season with a torn tendon in the same foot, with the Pacers going 6-5 during that stretch.

Granger aggravated the injury in the third quarter of an 88-72 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

The Pacers will need a joint effort to replace Granger's scoring. Dahntay Jones averages 15.3 points, and Brandon Rush - drafted in the first round by Portland in 2008 - will likely get more playing time.

Indiana's situation could certainly be worse. Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Travis Diener and Tyler Hansbrough have missed time with injuries, but only Diener (toe), who will miss three more weeks, remains out from that group.

"Any rash of injuries challenges you," O'Brien said. "I try to stay away from the word frustrated. We have games to play. We have guys who are professional players who have talent and are expected to step in and help us win."

Indiana lost its two games against Portland last season after winning the previous nine meetings.