LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jusuf Nurkic suffered a horrific leg injury while helping the Portland Trail Blazers to a 148-144 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in double overtime on Monday.
Nurkic led the scoring for the Blazers with 32 points while adding 16 rebounds and five assists at the Moda Center in Portland.
But the 24-year-old Bosnian’s evening ended in despair when he collapsed to the court in agony after suffering a gruesome looking injury in overtime.
Nurkic’s left leg buckled beneath him as he landed after attempting to tip in a shot.
Several players from both sides visibly recoiled after seeing the severity of Nurkic’s injury, which sent the arena into a concerned hush.
Nurkic was treated by medical personnel with a towel masking his face before being stretchered off the court.
The Bosnian big man had been enjoying the best season of his career, averaging 15.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game before Monday.
Meantime, Brazilian international Bruno Caboclo scored a career-high 24 points as the Memphis Grizzlies dented Oklahoma City Thunder’s likely playoff ranking with a 115-103 upset on Monday.
Caboclo, who only landed a permanent multi-year deal with Memphis last month after a frustrating few years spent trying to break into the NBA, rewarded his new employers’ belief with a game-winning display.
The 6ft 9in 23-year-old small forward from Sao Paulo also pulled down 11 rebounds and provided two assists to give the already-eliminated Grizzlies a deserved win over the higher-ranked Thunder.
The defeat leaves Oklahoma City in eighth place in the Western Conference standings with 43 wins and 31 defeats.
Caboclo’s points haul was the centerpiece of a solid all-round offensive display from Memphis, who saw all five starters finish in double figures.
Tyler Dorsey had 21 points while Delon Wright and Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points apiece.
But it was a rare off night for Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who was restricted to 16 points, five rebounds and seven assists, while converting just six of 20 field goal attempts.
Instead it was left to Paul George to keep the Thunder in touch, with the small forward finishing with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
MAGIC STUN SIXERS
Elsewhere Monday, there was another upset in Florida as the Orlando Magic sent the Philadelphia 76ers spinning to a second straight defeat in a 119-98.
Nikola Vucevic dominated a Sixers line-up missing Ben Simmons through illness to finish with 11 rebounds and four assists as well as a double-digit points tally.
The 119-98 victory left the Sixers in third place in the Eastern Conference standings with 47 wins against 27 defeats.
The Magic’s fifth consecutive win has kept them firmly in the hunt for a playoff berth with the same number of wins (36) as Miami, who occupy the eighth and final playoff berth.
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