Many components of Coach Brian Hill's new-look Vancouver Grizzlies are laid up in the trainer's room wrapped in bandage and gauze.
Where once his team only piled up losses, it is now collecting injuries at an alarming rate. The Grizzlies have limped through an 0-6 preseason minus many of the new faces they acquired in hopes of turning their fortunes around.
Here's the hurt count: Othella Harrington, bruised ankle; Dennis Scott, pulled right hamstring; Grant Long, concussion; Doug West has just been cleared to practice after undergoing toe surgery; Antoine Carr, knees aching from wear and tear; and Rich King, sore right knee.
That doesn't include Bryant Reeves missing one game after his knee popped out and then back into its socket, nor the fact that Mike Bibby is playing despite a sore back.
The Vancouver bench has been stretched so thin that, come the second quarter, Hill is left with no choice but to put out a lineup featuring a frontcourt of Obinna Ekezie, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Felipe Lopez, and a guard tandem of Stephen Jackson and Milt Palacio. Those five have four years of NBA experience among them.
"There's nobody else to put into the game, so that's why the lineups were the way they are," Hill said.
And it's not expected to get much better any time soon for a team that has lost 12 straight preseason games, going back to Oct. 15, 1997, is coming off a league-worst 8-42 season and has won 56 games in its four-year NBA history.
The injuries to Harrington, Long and Scott are especially devastating, considering all were slotted to get plenty of playing time, Harrington as a starter, and Long and Scott among the first off the bench.
Although all three are expected to be ready for next week's regular season opener, they've had very little--Scott none--game preparation.
"It's to the point now that I'm extremely concerned about the injury situation because I don't anticipate any of these guys being back for these two remaining [preseason] games," Hill said after Sunday's 103-101 loss to Sacramento.
So, the Grizzlies--who made six roster moves over the summer--will enter the regular season with very little chemistry.
"I've never had this many guys out," Hill said. "We're going to have to do the best we can."
Said Reeves: "We definitely miss the veterans. We were looking forward to their leadership. We're ready for them to get back, but it's something that there's nothing we can do."
Abdur-Rahim tried to put the best light on the situation.
"I knew coming in that we were going to hit some adversity. Every team does," said Abdur-Rahim, who's averaging more than 20 points in the preseason and coming off a triple-double effort against Sacramento.
"You always have rough times. It may be that our rough time is at the beginning," he said. "I'd rather it be now than later on in the year."