Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will miss the rest of the season after sustaining compound fractures of his left tibia and fibula Monday night.
Nurkic was carried off on a stretcher with 2:22 remaining in the second overtime of Portland’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.
As Nurkic landed from a leap for a rebound, his left foot came down on the shoe of Nets forward Jared Dudley, and his leg bent in an unnatural direction, with the foot and bottom of the shin pointing outward.
Players on the court viscerally reacted in anguish, and trainers quickly rushed to Nurkic, tending to him for several minutes before taking him off the court.
Nurkic was transported to a local hospital, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said postgame, adding that the injury was “devastating.”
Portland was leading 134-132 at the time, and Nurkic had a team-high 32 points, a game-high 16 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals.
The Trail Blazers went on to win 148-144 in double overtime and clinch a playoff spot, their sixth straight postseason berth. Still, because of Nurkic’s injury, the locker room was quiet postgame, according to Stotts.
“We weren’t celebrating,” the coach added.
Stotts said he also spoke little to his team postgame.
“Said a prayer for him. That was about it,” Stotts said before leaving the interview room abruptly.
“It’s definitely tough,” said Nurkic’s backup at center, Enes Kanter. “I’m going to go home and pray for him, because it’s about more than basketball.”
Zach Collins, another Blazers backup big man, said, “It’s terrible. You never want to see that happen. All we can do is be there for him and hope he’s in as little pain as possible and let him know we’ve got his back.”
The locker room was “very quiet, almost like we lost,” Collins added.
Nurkic, 24, is averaging 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 72 games this season.
Portland star guard Damian Lillard equated Nurkic’s injury to the gruesome broken leg that Paul George sustained in 2014 at a USA Basketball scrimmage.
Lillard said of Nurkic, “I saw him hit the ground, and he rolled over real quick. I thought maybe he got hit in the face. Then I saw everybody else turn around and look away. Then I saw his leg.”
Lillard added about the Blazers moving forward, “It’s going to be hard on our team. Every way you look at it, it’s a blow. … We’ve got to move forward and continue to try to get the job done. We’ve got to get tougher.”
–Field Level Media