Nurkic breaks wrist in 111-87 home loss to Pacers

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Indiana Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back after a 132-126 win in Sacramento last night.

Tonight did not go as planned, though—short- and long-term. The Blazers lost starting center Jusuf Nurkic to a broken wrist as Portland sunk in a poor home performance.

Image by Bruce Ely via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Image by Bruce Ely via Trail Blazers (used with permission)


Portland: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Jusuf Nurkic

Indiana: Malcolm Brogdon, Edmond Sumner, Justin Holiday, Damontas Sabonis, Myles Turner

Game Recap

First Quarter

Derrick Jones, Jr. had a solid start to the game with a pair of layups and a three, scoring 7 of the Blazers’ first 12 points.

Carmelo Anthony hit a corner 3 to cut Indiana’s early lead to 1 before Nurk took the lead for the Blazers. His battles with Sabonis in the post were a recurring theme of the first quarter on both ends of the court.

Out of a timeout, Melo expertly swung a pass to Gary Trent, Jr. in the corner after drawing a double-team. If he can be a consistently good distributor for this team, he’ll find himself plenty of minutes come playoff time.

The first quarter ended with the score knotted at 26-all.

Second Quarter

Portland’s all-bench rotation opened the second quarter in a zone to limit Sabonis, but Doug McDermott was able to drive through for a couple lay-ins and hit an open three.

Indiana’s aggressive defense held the Blazers to just 2 points in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. CJ broke the streak with back-to-back buckets, but Portland still struggled to create much until the full starting lineup came back in.

Myles Turner had a big block on Nurk and finished with a slam on the other end to give Indiana a 51-34 lead (3:15) before wedging a floater in between the rim and backboard.

Turner and Sabonis continued bruising Portland in the paint on both ends, building a sizable 59-36 lead going into the break.

The Blazers finished the first half with an abysmal shooting performance—30.2% (13/43) from the field including 4/20 3-pointers—while the Pacers were up to 50% and 4/15 from 3, respectively.

Third Quarter

McCollum and Nurkic opened the second half with back-to-back threes, but Brogdon and Indiana punched back to keep their cushion in the double-digits.

A Melo jumper and CJ transition 3 cut the lead to 11 with 3:35 left in the quarter, and the Blazers were poised to make another run for the lead. The next few minutes before the fourth would be key.

The Blazers made a few defensive stops, but the score was still 84-71 heading into the fourth.

Brogdon was the biggest catalyst for Indiana’s offense, totaling 22 points and 6 assists by the end of the third.

The biggest loss of the quarter, though, was Jusuf Nurkic fracturing his wrist.

Fourth Quarter

Dame opened the fourth with a hard take to the bucket for an and-one. Indiana Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren challenged the call and won, making it a charge on Dame and wiping the points. That swing kept the Blazers deficit at 16.

With Nurk out and Zach Collins still out for the foreseeable future, Portland immediately felt the effects of having to play Harry Giles at the 5.

A transition dunk from Gary Trent forced a Pacers timeout with 7:48 left and the score at 89-75. Trent’s second basket of the game was a much-needed one, but he still struggled mightily from behind the arc (1/5 at the time).

Dame dribbling the ball off his foot and TJ McConnell scoring and stealing the inbounds pass felt like a solid microcosm of the night.

Dame tried to forge a comeback, but the Blazers were clearly running out of time down 20 with 4 minutes left. The starters were pulled as Terry Stotts waved the white flag, and the game ended 111-87.

Final Thoughts

Some will call this a schedule loss, but I call it a terrible loss. Nurk will probably be out for 6-8 weeks or so, meaning the Blazers need another big or a lot more minutes for Harry Giles.

The bench didn’t play great for Portland tonight, highlighted by Trent’s 1/6 and Anfernee Simons’ 0/5 from behind the arc, but the starters weren’t great either. Dame and CJ were both held to 22 points and 4 assists each. Brogdon’s 25 and Sabonis’ 23 highlighted a solid team performance from the Pacers, who also got 16 bench points from Doug McDermott.

Player(s) of the Game

No one, really. I guess I’ll give it to CJ, who went 8/18 FG and 4/10 on 3s.

Next Up

The Blazers get a night off before hosting the Hawks this Saturday at 7pm.

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