Injury-prone Greg Oden
The Portland Trail Blazers kept the door closed to their trainer's room after last night's 20-point loss to the Lakers.
When it was finally opened, there was their injured star, Greg Oden, fully-dressed, his right leg stretched out on a trainer's table, with an orthopedic boot the size of Frankenstein's covering his sprained right foot.
Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, missed all of last season because of surgery on his right knee and now in his first regular season game he goes down with a foot sprain and played only the first half. X-rays were inconclusive; he will have an MRI today.
"I wanted to play. I tried to run on it [at half time], it just wasn't happening," Oden said in a voice so quiet he couldn't be heard from more than three feet away. How did he get hurt? "About the third play of the game. I tried to play the rest of the game with it. ... I went up to get a rebound and came down on Derek Fisher's foot."
There was excitement at Staples Center last night, partly because this was the first matchup between two young seven-foot centers: the Lakers' Andrew Bynum, who just turned 21, and Oden, who is 20.
Oden looked good on defense. He forcefully blocked a Bynum shot in the paint, and later forced Bynum off balance as the Laker center threw up an awkward hook shot. Oden also disrupted several plays in the paint when other Lakers drove in.
But on offense, Oden was clumsy and slow. Bynum elbowed him out of position and Oden fired up an awkward hook from 10 feet out. Then Pau Gasol blocked Oden's dunk attempt. Another time, Oden fought for an offensive rebound, and was gearing up for another move to the basket but he took too long and lost the ball.
Was he focusing on outplaying Bynum? "I was trying to concentrate on everybody. They [Lakers] started the game really physical. I was trying to calm myself," Oden said.
Early in the first quarter, Oden was moving with a slight limp and it worsened in the second quarter, although he kept up with Bynum on the floor.
The box score on Oden's first NBA game: 13 minutes, 0 points. He missed all four field goals he attempted and both free throws -- he shot line drives. He also had five rebounds, one blocked shot, two turnovers, two fouls and no assists.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, center, is fouled as he is defended by Lakers center Andrew Bynum, right, and guard Derek Fisher during the first quarter Tuesday night. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press