CHICAGO — The Portland Trail Blazers are trying to regroup after losing centre Jusuf Nurkic to a gruesome leg injury.
The 7-footer had surgery Tuesday after sustaining compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula late in a playoff-clinching, double-overtime victory over Brooklyn a night earlier.
Nurkic’s leg bent awkwardly when he landed going for an offensive rebound, and he crumbled to the floor. The team has no timetable for him resuming basketball activities.
“Obviously, we’re still a little down about Jusuf being out, but we know the season rolls on and we got to be prepared not only for the Bulls but the rest of the season,” coach Terry Stotts said prior to Wednesday’s game at Chicago.
He said Nurkic hoped to head home Wednesday or Thursday.
“When he was on the floor, I saw his eyes,” centre Enes Kanter said. “I saw he was crying and everything, so he definitely was in everybody’s heart. But we’ve got a job to do. We just got to go out and play the game.”
Nurkic was averaging a career-high 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds. Portland was third in the Western Conference behind Golden State and Denver entering Wednesday’s game.
“We’ve just got to take care of business,” centre Zach Collins said. “Obviously, losing a player like Nurk, who’d been having a career year on probably both sides of the ball and just what he does for us defensively, he’s going to be missed. We’ve got to step up and make sure that hole’s filled.”