Life without Roy

You could tell something was wrong with Brandon Roy Sunday afternoon, as the Blazers squared off against the Boston Celtics in a disheartening 112-102 loss at the Rose Garden.

You could tell something was wrong with Brandon Roy Sunday afternoon, as the Blazers squared off against the Boston Celtics in a disheartening 112-102 loss at the Rose Garden.

Battling a nasty chest cold, Roy hobbled around the court like a creaky 15-year veteran, rarely looking for his offense. The second-year guard, who played only 57 games on the way to Rookie of the Year honors last season, looked dog tired.

And that was before Roy tweaked his injured right ankle early in the second half of Sunday’s game. He retreated to the locker room for treatment and didn’t play another minute.

Luckily for the Blazers, Roy’s ankle, injured in a Feb. 13 game at Dallas, is only sprained. Roy will get a much-needed break. He won’t travel to Los Angeles with the team, which means he is out for, at least, the next two games.

Your man, the All-Star, the Natural, the Most Valuable Player (of this team, at least), is only human, after all. And unless there is a seismic shift in the Western Conference, the Blazers are in “wait-until-next-year” mode.

That isn’t a bad thing at all. Fans have been angrily clamoring for Roy to get some rest for weeks, and that was before his chest cold. Roy made the All-Star team in his second year in the league. This season, the franchise has overachieved on almost every level.

There isn’t much left to prove this season, except that the Blazers have a savvy coaching staff unwilling to risk a player’s future for a glimmer of hope at making the playoffs. James Jones has been treated using the same logic.

Ever since Greg Oden went down, everybody knew it was never about this year. So get ready for the Travis Outlaw-Martell Webster show. Head coach Nate McMillan has set his Roy-less line-up, and he will give Outlaw his first start of the season Tuesday against L.A.

Eventually, Outlaw will get a crack at the starting small forward job. He brings size, rebounding and shooting to the table-just not defense. The soft-spoken Mississippi native has yet to prove he is capable of guarding quality threes, allowing James Posey and Paul Pierce easy looks at the hoop Sunday.

The extra playing time should also benefit Webster, who hasn’t played more than 26 minutes the past three games. The third-year guard has started 51 of 56 games this year, but has not shot the ball well, shooting just 41 percent from the field on the year.

With Roy on the shelf, Webster, still just 21 years old, gets inserted back into the starting line-up. Along with regulars Joel Przybilla, LaMarcus Aldridge and Steve Blake, this gives the Blazers one of the largest starting line-ups in the league.

But if the second half of Sunday’s game is any indication, life without Roy is going to be painful, no matter who the Blazers plug into starting roles. The offense, which struggled mightily when left in the hands of Jarrett Jack on Sunday, lacks a player that can use the dribble to create for himself or others.

Jack is not a point guard, with15 turnovers the past four games, and Blake is most effective as a shooter. Outlaw has effective offensive moves but he is becoming predictable, and Webster has just four assists in the month of February.

Enter Sergio Rodriguez, who played all of eight minutes against Boston. But they were a glorious eight minutes. Rodriguez had seven points, two rebounds and an assist, shooting 3 of 6, including 1 of 2 from three-point land.

With Roy down, McMillan would be wise to give Rodriguez some real playing time. He kept Jack on the floor for 43 minutes and watched Jack, the Georgia Tech product, turn the ball over five times and commit five fouls.

Roy is day-to-day and wants to play when the Blazers face the Lakers in Portland Friday night. Don’t count on it. After all, Roy is only human, and this franchise should be content to rest on its laurels-at least until next year.

McMillan’s Roy-less starting line-up

Head coach Nate McMillan will play sixth-man Travis Outlaw at small forward until Brandon Roy returns.

C Joel Pryzbilla

PF LaMarcus Aldridge

SF Travis Outlaw

SG Martell Webster

PG Steve Blake