The Portland Trail Blazers have tied their Western Conference first-round series against the Phoenix Suns at two games apiece, thanks in part to a surprise appearance by All-Star Brandon Roy.
Roy didn’t play in the first three games of the series due to arthroscopic surgery on his knee just eight days before Game 4. But after asking Portland coach Nate McMillan to play via a late-night text the night before the game, he was allowed to return just in time to help Portland steal Game 4 with a 96-87 win on Saturday, April 24.
"It was a long, sleepless night," McMillan told reporters, describing how difficult a decision it was to play the injured Roy. “All kinds of things went through my head, thinking about the risk of him reinjuring himself. But our doctors didn’t feel like Brandon could hurt himself.”
Roy’s presence ended up hurting Phoenix, as he scored 10 points in 27 minutes of action off the bench. Even when Roy wasn’t scoring, his presence on the court made it that much tougher for Phoenix to defend Portland.
"As soon as he checked into the game, I got my first open shot with nobody guarding me, so I was thinking, ‘thank God, he's back,’" Portland forward LaMarus Aldridge told reporters.
Aldridge would have plenty of open shots thanks to Roy, and went on to help his team with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
Phoenix star Steve Nash said Roy’s surprise return to play also served as an emotional boost for Portland
“I’d certainly say it gave them a lift,” Nash said. “More than anything it just gave everyone a boost in their spirit and attitude. That was good for the crowd and good for his teammates to have him out there.”
Nash finished with 15 points and eight assists, while teammate Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 26 points and three blocks.
Game 5 of the series will tip off on Monday, April 26.