Thursday, December 20, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- When top draft pick Greg Oden was lost for the season because of knee surgery, many wrote off the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, the NBA's youngest team is proving it can do fine without him.
The Blazers have won nine straight, the longest current winning streak in the NBA after the Boston Celtics lost at home to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Portland (14-12) rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors 101-96 to extend the streak, the team's longest since it won 12 straight during the 2001-02 season. The Blazers will try to extend the streak Friday night when they host the Denver Nuggets.
Portland started the streak with a win Dec. 3 at Memphis, after going 5-12 to start the season. Six of the nine wins have come at home, where the Blazers are 11-3.
Portland has not been three games above .500 since April 10, 2004.
The Blazers themselves seem a bit surprised by their success.
"It's hard to say. I think early maybe it was a hot streak," guard Brandon Roy said. "But I think now we are getting confident, and we are getting better. I think now people kind of want to see us lose to see how we respond, to see were they really that good or were they just riding a wave?"
Roy is one of the primary reasons the Blazers are winning.
Last season's Rookie of the Year has been averaging 24.2 points a game during the streak. He has been named the Western Conference player of the week the past two weeks.
Against Toronto, he was battling the flu and hadn't eaten for two days, but still managed 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. In the third quarter on a driving layup he switched the ball from his right hand to his left in midair, a stunning move that left coach Nate McMillan commenting: "It was like Michael Jordan in the NBA finals."
The crowd at the Rose Garden chanted: "MVP! MVP!"(click title to go to full article.)