Batum to start for Blazers

TUALATIN — In just four games, Nicolas Batum has worked his way back into the starting lineup.

OK, he needed Andre Miller to get suspended to do so, but the Frenchman is back either way.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said during shootaround Tuesday that Batum will replace Miller — who is suspended tonight after bulldozing Blake Griffin Sunday vs. the Clippers — leaving Brandon Roy to bring up the ball most of the time.
Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby will round out the starting five.

“Nic’s playing well,” McMillan said. “Defenisvely, I think we can try and match up with them, get the defenders with these guys.”

McMillan also expressed surprise over Miller’s suspension, especially seeing as how there was no whistle blown when the play first happened.

“I was very surprised. First of all, there wasn’t a call. I don’t know if somebody sent that in,” McMillan said. “Maybe a fine, but not a suspension. We lose someone from our starting lineup in our next game. Plus, it ends Andre’s streak.”

Miller has played in 632 consecutive games, tops among active players.

Batum was relegated to coming off the bench before last Tuesday’s game vs. Philadelphia and scored just six points over the first two games in his new role. He has averaged 12 points, however, in the past two contests, including a 13-point, 14-rebound effort vs. the Clippers Sunday.

Is this an opportunity?

“Yeah, maybe,” Batum said. “Maybe I gotta to show I can in the starting lineup, but I want to play basketball, when the game is tight I want to be on the court.”

McMillan said that in addition to Roy, Matthews and Batum might initiate the offense. Batum and Matthews, meanwhile, will trade looks guarding Steve Nash.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or

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