- Associated Press - Saturday, February 19, 2011

PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - In mid-December the vibe around the Portland Trail Blazers seemed fairly bleak.

Center Greg Oden was already out for another season because of knee surgery, and something was wrong with All-Star guard Brandon Roy, too.

It was clear that Roy was in trouble on Dec. 15 against the Dallas Mavericks, when he had just four points in 30 minutes, well off his season average of 16.6 points per game. Portland lost 103-98.

Roy would sit for the rest of the month while questions swirled about the health of his knees. Finally, on Dec. 30, the Blazers announced that the former NBA Rookie of the Year was sidelined “indefinitely.”

Roy had arthroscopic surgery on both knees on Jan. 17. He has said the problem is too little cartilage cushioning the bones in the joint.

The loss of Roy was a major blow to Portland, which had been banking on the trio of Roy, Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge to propel the franchise into the NBA’s elite. To make matters worse, veteran center Marcus Camby, who helped get Portland to the playoffs last season, also went down with a knee injury in January.

But instead of dwelling on some incredible bad luck, the Blazers did what they became known for last season when a series of injuries struck.

They moved on.

Portland won six of its next eight games when Roy sat out following the Dallas loss. Now resting over the All-Star break, the Blazers (32-24) have won a season-high six straight games and are fifth in the Western Conference. Portland is a season-best eight games over .500.

Guard Andre Miller needed just two words to describe Portland’s success: “Everybody contributes.”

The efforts of Miller, Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum have kept Portland’s season from a downward spiral.

Aldridge, in particular, has emerged as the focal point of the Blazers, who have run their offense through him in Roy’s absence.

The 6-foot-11 Texan is averaging 26.3 points and 9.7 rebounds since Dec. 15. He has 10 games this season with at least 30 points, eight of those games coming since Roy left. Overall he’s averaging 22.3 points and 8.9 rebounds.

“He’s really evolved in his all-around play,” Matthews said. “For most players that’s the next revolution: Can he make others better? He’s really doing that.”

While Miller has been his usual steady force at the point, averaging 13.2 points and 7.4 assists, Matthews has stepped in to Roy’s role. The Blazers acquired Matthews as a restricted free agent last summer from Utah, which did not match Portland’s offer.

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