McMillan flip-flops, Camby limps

Come again now?

Who it was is uncertain, but someone appeared to have pulled a Jedi mind trick on Nate McMillan after Blazers practice Tuesday.

The team’s head coach was fielding questions about the significance of the upcoming stretch in which the Blazers play four straight games against sub .500 clubs, three of which are at the Rose Garden.

So are these must-win games considering you’re playing opponents you should beat?

McMillan’s initial response: “I think all games are must-win situations. I don’t understand the ‘should beat.’ That’s why you play the games. There are teams under .500, but we’re right around .500…you can’t take that attitude.”

Fair enough. These are games just like any other. Got it.

“They’re important games because you are playing some teams that are under .500 and you are at home,” McMillan said later.

Totally…wait, huh?

Regardless of how “must-win” the pending contests are, here are the hard facts: Wednesday, the Blazers are in Sacramento playing the Kings (9-30), owners of the Western Conference’s worst record. Thursday, they come back to Portland to host the Clippers (15-25), whose wins over Miami and the Lakers last week suggest the second half of their season will hardly reflect the first.

Two nights later, the Pacers (16-22) come to town, followed by a rematch with the Kings Monday night.

After that? Boston and San Antonio — the NBA’s two best teams — followed by six of seven games on the road.

So is their big chance? A make or break? Is losing to a bad team the basketball equivalent of bogeying a par 5.

“A loss is a loss,” Blazers center Marcus Camby said. “I’ve been part of a team that won 16 ball games and 17 ball games. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, it doesn’t sit well.”


Sitting well isn’t Camby’s concern at the moment. It’s standing and running well that’s the greater worry.

The 7-footer logged just seven minutes in the Blazers’ 113-102 win over Minnesta Friday, injuring his knee when he landed awkwardly on a shot-block attempt in the first quarter.

An MRI Tuesday came back negative. But his pronounced limp Tuesday was hardly a positive.

Technically, he’s a game-time decision for Wednesday — as is Rudy Fernandez, who also tweaked his knee Monday. However, Camby said team orthopedist Dr. Don Roberts is going to further examine the MRI before any decisions are made.

Does he feel like he could play now?

“Right now? Today? No. But tomorrow probably,” Camby said. “Stay with a treatment. If it feels good around seven o’clock, I’ll be out there.”

Camby was later asked if he’s ever had a serious knee injury.

“Little nicks and bruises,” he said, “but nothing serious like what’s been going on around here.”

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