Oden doing well coming off bench

PORTLAND — The Rose Garden fans got their first regular-season look at center Greg Oden, and he did not disappoint.

The crowd was on its feet when Oden entered the game against the Chicago Bulls with under five minutes left in the first quarter.

His "Thank You" was a two-handed dunk off a pass from Steve Blake moments later.

The Blazers went on to win 116-74. Oden finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

In six games this season — he played 13 minutes in the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers but didn't score and sprained his ankle — Oden is averaging 10 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game.

That's plenty to be encouraged by, but Oden is still learning to play in real games with the Blazers — and the Blazers are still learning to play with him.

Nate McMillan's plan in playing Oden off the bench was to take some of the pressure off him and ease him into more minutes.

Fellow center Joel Przybilla has been doing well in the starting role. He's averaging 6.4 points and 7.9 minutes. Against the Bulls, he had 14 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

So a decision to move Oden to starter will be taken on a thoughtful, game-by-game basis.


MARTELL'S RETURN: Trail Blazers swingman Martell Webster told The Oregonian he hopes to return to the team about Dec. 5.

Webster is recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery in the preseason.

The target date coincides with the Blazers' game against the defending NBA champion Celtics in Boston.

While Webster was been rehabbing, he signed a four-year, $20-million contract extension.


MORE ON THE INJURY FRONT: Guard Steve Blake collided with a photographer during the Blazers' game against the Bulls and required several stitches in his scalp.


LUKE RECOVERS: Trail Blazers assistant Maurice Lucas was hospitalized for two weeks with bronchial pneumonia but is now back at home recovering.

Lucas became ill in late August and he has not been with the Blazers since. There is no timetable for his return.

First-year assistant coach Joe Prunty has assumed Lucas' spot on the bench in the interim.


RUDY'S BLOG: Not to be outdone by teammate Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez has his own blog. Only thing is, it's in Spanish. The "el blog de Rudy" can be found at http:www.adn.es/blog/rudy—fernandez/.

In one of his recent entries, Fernandez wrote about the Blazers' first road trip, marveling at the accommodations on the team's plane.

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