Bill Walton is a "very doubtful" starter for Saturday night's game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Bullets.
Walton has missed Portland's last three games with an inflamed achilles tendon. It has been diagnosed as a "wear and tear" injury and the only cure appears to be rest, according to a Trail Blazer spokesman.
When Walton returns, maybe Tuesday against the Denver Nuggest, he is expected to play fewer minutes a game than he has been.
Walton is the National Basketball Association's rebounding and shot-blocking leader. Lloyd Neal, who would normally be the backup center, has a swollen knee, and has missed the last five games.
The interim Portland center is 6-foot-9 Robin Jones from St. Louis University. He came to camp as a free agent this summer after a year in Europe and impressed coach Jack Ramsay. The Trail Blazers are 2-1 with him in place of Walton.
Portland's best guard, speedster Lionel Hollins, is playing again after fracturing a bone in his forehead. He wears a mask and his peripheral vision is impared.
The man who picked up the slack for Portland is 6-9 forward Maurice Lucas.In the Trail Blazers' 107-98 victory at Indiana Thursday, Lucas scored 35 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and had seven assists.
Besides Lucas and Jones, the other Portland starters are Bob Gross, Dave Twardzik and Larry Steele.
Saturday's game against the Bullets will be the Blazers' first at home after eight straight on the road. Portland has the best home record in the NBA, 25-1.
This will be the third game of the Bullets' seven-game road trip. They lost in Denver Wednesday and played the Sonics in Seattle tonight.
The Bullets and Trail Blazers are 1-1 this season, each winning at home.This is the last regular season game between the two.
The Bullets are battling Cleveland and Houston for first place in the Central Division, while Portland and Los Angeles have made it a two-team race in the Pacific.