Oden makes hometown debut as Blazers top Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Greg Oden doesn't mind being a role player.

At least he's playing.

The top pick in the 2007 draft returned to Portland's lineup Wednesday night after missing more than a month because of a bone chip in his left knee. He had four points and seven rebounds in his first pro game in his hometown as the Trail Blazers beat the Indiana Pacers 95-85.

Oden knows he doesn't need to be the star on a team that already has 43 wins. Instead of trying to show off to friends and family, he just tried to avoid disrupting his team's flow.

"I just wanted to catch up with these guys and start to get in a groove with them," Oden said. "I didn't want to come out and try to do too much."

Oden made 1-of-3 field goals and both of his free throws in 12 minutes. He committed two fouls and had two turnovers.

Oden missed a chance to play in Indianapolis last season, when he sat out the entire 2007-08 campaign after having microfracture surgery on his right knee.

"I got to see a lot of family, got to spend some time at my mom's house," he said.

Coach Nate McMillan said he needed Oden to focus on the little things and get into shape.

"We didn't try to involve him too much in the offense," McMillan said. "We just had him setting some screens. He moved OK. He had a couple blocks [actually one], made some shots and had some rebounds. We're just trying to get him back into a rhythm."

Oden's best play was a two-handed power dunk that gave Portland a 70-54 lead in the third quarter. He said he felt fine after the game.

"The knee feels fine," Oden said. "It's a little bit sore. It's something I'm going to get through and work through."

Brandon Roy, who led the Trail Blazers with 20 points, said he has tried to encourage Oden.

"I just tell him to stay positive," Roy said. "Nobody in the world can control injuries. That's just an unfortunate thing. Just know that we need you and when you're out there, do the best you can."

Indiana center Roy Hibbert said Oden was a handful.

"He's a presence down there and he makes it known, either blocking shots or getting rebounds," Hibbert said. "He's a good player and there's a reason why he went No. 1. He's going to keep working and the sky is the limit."

Travis Outlaw had 15 points and Steve Blake added 14 points and eight assists for the Trail Blazers.

Indiana's Danny Granger had 35 points and 10 rebounds in his first start since leaving a game Feb. 18 against Charlotte because of a partially torn tendon in his right foot. Indiana coach Jim O'Brien had little to say about Granger's performance.

"We got crushed," he said. "It doesn't matter."

Indiana's Troy Murphy, the league's No. 3 rebounder, sat out with a left calf contusion.

Indiana lost its fourth straight game to clinch its fourth consecutive non-winning season. The Pacers have lost their past three games by a combined 47 points.

"We're quickly playing ourselves out of a playoff race is what it's coming down to," O'Brien said. "I would say the last three games it did not seem like we played with an urgency that the situation calls for. We as a group have to figure out why."

Indiana shot 41 percent in one of its worst offensive performances of the season. The Pacers had beaten many of the NBA's best teams, such as the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, at home.

Portland led 50-39 at halftime, but the Pacers made a run to start the second half. The Pacers trailed 55-42 before going on a 10-4 run. A dunk by Granger with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter cut Portland's lead to 59-52 and forced the Trail Blazers to call a timeout.

Portland bounced back, and Oden's dunk made it a 16-point lead with three minutes left in the period. The Trail Blazers led 76-55 at the end of the quarter.

"Coach called timeout, and he got on us," Roy said. "He said this game's not over with, and the only way we're going to win is playing the way we did to build this lead."

The Pacers fell behind by 20 points in the second quarter but cut it to 11 by halftime. Portland made six of its first seven 3-pointers but couldn't put the Pacers away because Granger scored 21 points before the break. Granger shot 7-for-14 in the first half, while his teammates shot 8-for-23.

"We need to get our edge back, and we have to do it immediately," O'Brien said.

Game notes
Granger scored Indiana's first six points. ... Oden entered the game to cheers with 3:55 left in the first quarter. ... Murphy leads the Pacers with 63 starts. ... Purdue, which won the Big Ten tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on Sunday, will play on the Trail Blazers' home court Thursday. The Boilermakers will play Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Rose Garden.