NBA / jusuf nurkic
Blazers Edge Nets In 2OT, But Lose Nurkic To Gruesome Injury
The Brooklyn Nets traveled to the Pacific Northwest on Monday night to take on Damian Lillard and the Blazers in a late-season showdown of middling playoff squads. The teams are locked in a tense battle for playoff positioning in their respective conferences. Wins or losses could affect who they face in round 1 of the NBA playoffs. I'm always curious about the feisty Blazers, but lately I've been watching a lot of Nets games in a slight act of basketball sadomasochism. Nets star D'Angelo Russell used to be a Los Angeles Laker just two years ago, but GM and Laker legend Magic Johnson elected to trade him in order to free up room at the point guard slot for Lonzo Ball. D'Angelo was injured most of last year, but with a healthy body and free runway of on-court opportunity, he has flourished to the tune of an Eastern Conference All-Star birth. You can bet that our front office has that look of perennial egg on our face as a result. This entertaining game between the Nets and Blazers was completely following the script. Tight deficits all game long, double overtime, big scoring nights from young stars. Everything was hunky dory...until Jusuf Nurkic fell to the floor and broke his leg Paul George/Gordon Hayward style. He had to be rolled onto a stretcher and escorted straight to the hospital. Such a shame. He had himself a huge night before the fall (32-16-5-2-4, 13/24), but his teammates won it for him 144-148. Take a look at the Rhythm of the Game to see how this unfolded, and Takeaways for thoughts moving forward. Rhythm Of The Game The Blazers set out to get their big man Nurkic going early and often. They dumped it down in the post multiple times. Lillard was prioritizing getting his teammates going while providing a balanced output of jumpers to go ahead. That led to a stiff arms distance on the scoreboard coming down to the waning minutes of the first, but a late Brooklyn scoring burst closed the game after the first twelve minutes, 27-30. The Nets stayed within striking distance thanks to a cool 18-4-4 from Russell. D'Angelo was getting testy out there. He yelled something at the Blazers bench after nailing a three in front of them when the scored hovered around 40. Russell got some solid backup from teammates DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Jared Dudley to walk into the halftime locker room with a tied game, 62-all. Both teams shot around a 50% clip overall and 40% from three in the first twenty-four for an overall clean game of ball. The quality was there, but that Russell trash talk had me thinking this one could get tense down the line The midsized leads we found in the first half were nowhere to be seen. The third quarter brought big shot after big shot as the teams wrestled with 2-4 point advantages back and forth. At the end of the third, Portland found themselves up merely five on this pesky Nets squad. Damian Lillard wasn't having a lights out offensive game, but timely contributions from unexpected players like Enes Kanter kept morale and the scoreboard riding high. 90-95 Blazers lead with only one quarter to go. Brooklyn moved swiftly to kick off the fourth, slashing and diving to the hoop to retake the game 96-95. The Nets began grasping their hands around the neck of this game en route to a sudden ten-point fourth quarter lead! Brooklyn was charging, and the Blazers seemed to be treading water to stay alive. But this was the Blazers playing at home, could we really expect them to not fight back? The answer was no. Brooklyn still played at a high level but the Blazers pulled off a rally to make it a one possession game! Things devolved into a battle of free throws, where we saw the Nets shaky free throw shooting keep this game within distance for the Blazers! Russell went to the line with a chance to make it a four point game but he missed one making it a three-point deficit! Damian Lillard got the ball then drove in for a quick layup to make it a one-point game with thirty seconds to go. The Blazers got the ball back and at the free throw line, where Seth Curry made one of two free throws to tie this game and send it to overtime! We had another five to go In the overtime period, blows were exchanged like a no-defense heavyweight fight in the final, deciding rounds. No team garnered more than a one-point lead until Portland stretched it to three with under two minutes to play. With a chance to make ti a two-possession game, Lillard went around a high screen and roll for the 30-foot pullup - but bricked! Dinwiddie found the ball in his hands for the three and fired away to promptly tie it at 128! Holy shit! Seth Curry got back to the line at the other end and copped two freebies for a Portland two-point advantage, but it didn't last long because Russell drove hard at the other end for the layup! Tied again with 26 seconds to go! With the game at a stalemate, Portland big Nurkic muscled his way to the line for free throws to give Portland another late two-point lead. What followed next was a scramble of a possession that ended up a wide-open Russell layup for the tie! Lillard had eight seconds to win the game for the Blazers. He caught the ball beyond the half-court marker and barely moved past to throw up a prayer of a shot...that didn't even touch rim! Double overtime, here we go. Both teams came in looking visibly sluggish, blowing easy opportunities in the open minutes of action. The Blazers finally scratched with a rolling Nurkic hook shot to break the scoring drought, 132-134. Brooklyn was clearly feeling the effects of fatigue a bit more than the Blazers, but when the game hung in the balance a shocking, tragic thing occurred....Nurkic broke his leg Gordon Hayward style.....bent in a direction it had no business bending in. His season was over.....the crowd knew this too and they chanted "JU-SUF-NUR-KIC *clap. clap. clap clap clap" in support of their fallen big. Everyone was traumatized. The game came to a halt as they rolled Nurk onto a stretcher and straight to the hospital. Afernee Simmons made both free throws in Nurkic's place, given the Blazers a four-point edge with under two to play. Both teams were understandably shook after seeing something that horrific thing happen to Nurk...but the Brooklyn Nets still hung around. A couple of Joe Harris free throws made it a two-point game with nine seconds left to go! It didn't materialize into the win though. Portland wins the game 144-148, but lose arguably their second best player to a horrific injury. Takeaways The Blazers might've clinched a playoff spot with this win, but their season is over guys. What could've been a surprising playoff run has been cast aside by fate's cruel whim. To lose your maybe your second best player this season to a horrific leg injury like that can probably mean kissing dreams of the Western Conference Finals goodbye. That is, unless they can rally 2018 Boston Celtics style in the postseason. The problem is, the West isn't weak like the East. The varsity league is unforgiving. Such a shame that this entertaining double-OT thriller will be defined by an injury that nobody wanted to see. The Blazers are already without CJ McCollum at this crucial juncture, who is sidelined for another five games or so. Lillard's going to be doing the heavy lifting obviously, and CJ will be back, but the pressures of the West maye be too much to shoulder for the Portland guards. The only thing I can really take away from this is that the Blazers are fucked in the postseason, but if they manage to enter and thrive the Western Conference Finals, Dame's name is going to reach new NBA heights. Let's just hope Nurkic rehab goes well and he can eventually come back into the same groove he was feeling. As for the Nets, I can't help but marvel at how much of a deep team they are. Russell had an impressive 39, but five other players scored 10+ while Dinwiddie pitched in 22. Jared Dudley's jumper was particularly clutch for them (2/3 from three, 6/8 overall). The loss did sting a bit, because the seventh-seeded Nets are feeling heat below from the ninth-seeded Magic, only 1.5 games back of them. Not to mention, Charlotte can still technically catch them being three games back. They really wanted the win tonight, but they'll have to prove their worth in a stiff test against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.