Blazers' Fernandez to miss up to 6 weeks

PORTLAND — Portland Trail Blazers forward Rudy Fernandez underwent a procedure to alleviate nerve pressure in his back that was causing leg pain, and he is expected to miss up to six weeks.

It is the latest injury to befall the Blazers, who are down to just nine available players.

The team said Fernandez had a microdiscectomy on Tuesday to relieve pressure on a nerve in his back. The pressure on his nerve was causing him pain in his right leg.

The Blazers put the timetable for his return at anywhere from four to six weeks.

"The procedure was successful and we can now turn our attention to getting Rudy healthy and back on the court," Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. "He's been under a lot of pain and we look forward to Rudy returning healthier than ever."

Fernandez, a second-year player from Spain, was averaging 8.6 points, 2.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes a game this season. He missed two games with the injury before having surgery.

What are left of the Blazers are on a four game-road trip, which started with a 93-84 loss Monday night to the New York Knicks.

On Saturday, center Greg Oden fractured his kneecap during a game at home against the Houston Rockets. Portland's 7-foot No. 1 draft pick had surgery on Sunday and is out for the season.

Forward Nicolas Batum required shoulder surgery just before the start of the season, while forward Travis Outlaw broke his foot in mid-November and required surgery.

Rookies Patty Mills (right foot) and Jeff Pendergraph (left hip) have both started the season on the injured list after surgeries.

Even coach Nate McMillan had surgery on Monday to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon. McMillan injured his right Achilles while practicing with the Blazers — because the team was so short-handed.

Assistant Dean Demopoulos is filling in for McMillan on the Blazers' current four-game road trip. Portland visits the Indiana Pacers today.

The Blazers, considered at the start of the season to be talented and deep enough to challenge the Lakers in the West, are suddenly struggling. While Portland is 13-9, the team has lost four of its last five games.

"It's not normal," Demopoulos said. "But life throws you curveballs sometimes and if you can't hit a curveball, you don't belong here. We're lacking some really fine basketball players that are injured right now."

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