Jusuf Nurkic had 32 points and 16 rebounds before suffering a gruesome left leg injury in the second overtime, and the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Brooklyn Nets 148-144 on Monday night.
Nurkic was hurt when his leg bent awkwardly as he battled for an offensive rebound. His leg was immobilized and he was removed on a stretcher while surrounded by members of both teams.
The Blazers pulled out the game without him to clinch a playoff berth, but the loss of its starting center having his best season could be devastating for a Portland team already playing without injured guard CJ McCollum.
Damian Lillard finished with 31 points and 12 assists for Portland, while D’Angelo Russell had 39 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Brooklyn.
Nurkic’s basket made it 134-132 with 3:40 to go into the second overtime. With center Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis having fouled out and the Nets left without a big man, Nurkic had a huge advantage inside whenever he posted up or went for rebounds.
But he was hurt while doing so, with bodies falling all around him. After he was taken off the court, Anfernee Simons made two free throws for Portland to put them up 136-132.
A 3-pointer by Rodney Hood extended the lead to 139-132 forced the Nets to start fouling.
There were 12 lead changes and 15 ties over the course of the game, with Portland leading 95-90 after three.
The Nets, however, would storm back in the fourth thanks to the play of their bench. Brooklyn took multiple leads in the final period, with their biggest coming at 112-102 with 6:07 left after a jumper by Caris LeVert.
Portland fought back and with the Nets up one with the ball, Seth Curry stole Russell’s dribble and was fouled. He missed the first free throw but made the second to tie the game at 120 with 3.5 seconds left.
Russell missed a deep 3-pointer to force overtime.
Russell scored five early points in the extra period, but Portland took a 128-125 lead on Nurkic’s basket before a 3-pointer by Spencer Dinwiddie tied the game again.
It went to a second OT tied at 132 after Russell made a layup and Lillard missed a long final attempt.
Nets: Brooklyn had its two-game winning streak snapped and has one game left on its seven-game road trip, at Philadelphia on Thursday.
Trail Blazers: Coach Terry Stotts said McCollum is doing well in his recovery from a knee strain he suffered on March 16, but that he will not join them for their four-game road trip. “He’s progressing fine,” Stotts said. “He will not go on the road trip. He will stay back and rehab and get some court work back here.” The Blazers start the trip Wednesday at Chicago before coming back on April 3.
Nets: Thursday at Philadelphia 76ers.
Trail Blazers: Wednesday at Chicago Bulls.