Blazer notes: MRI shows no break for Matthews

Guard hopeful to return to lineup before season's end

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. -- The Blazers' injury report wasn't completely grim.

On Tuesday, Wesley Matthews said that his right ankle had improved from the previous day and that he no longer needed crutches to walk. Also, results from an MRI on his right ankle showed no "soft tissue damage." Although Matthews expected to have two more MRIs on Tuesday -- "because I'm messed up," he explained -- he also expressed muted optimism in returning before the end of the regular season. Matthews ranks third on the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game as well as plays as the Blazers' best perimeter defender.

"See how it goes," Matthews said. "We have five left. A back-to-back. I hope so."

Still, Matthews will hate to sit out Wednesday against the Lakers.

"As far as miss the Laker game, it's tough," Matthews said. "Two times now I'll miss playing against my favorite team."

A reporter followed with the question: "Favorite team to play against?" And Matthews, sensing the consequences in making such a slip of the tongue around these parts, amended his words.

"Yeah. Let me reiterate that," Matthews said. "Play against my favorite team to play against. I don't need any backlash. People taking things the wrong way."

Batum still sore

Nicolas Batum sat out practice again but after the court had cleared, he participates in shooting drills alongside teammate Elliot Williams.

Batum has missed the last three games with a right shoulder issue stemming from a superior labral tear. Tuesday marked the first time that Batum had attempted a shot since experiencing the injury last week in Salt Lake City. In spite of the brief workout of free throws and pull-up jump shots, afterwards Batum complained of shoulder pain.

"It's sore again," Batum said. "Especially at the end (of the workout). I feel like my shoulder's burning."

Batum said that he planned to see how his shoulder holds up after Wednesday morning shootaround before making a decision to play.