PORTLAND, Ore. — Just as the Blazers seemed to have built momentum in the early part of the season, the team got some bad news Thursday night. Center Jusuf Nurkic fractured his right wrist during Portland’s 111-87 loss against the Indiana Pacers.
On Friday afternoon, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Nurkic will have surgery to repair his fractured right wrist and will miss at least eight weeks, which means Nurkic won't return until the second half of the season for the Blazers.
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Nurkic left the floor during the third quarter of the game. The NBC Sports Northwest broadcast showed the Blazers big man swipe at the ball while on defense and he appeared to immediately grab his wrist. During the next timeout, Nurkic walked off the court and made his way toward the locker room while holding his right wrist.
Portland entered Thursday's game on a four-game winning streak and had climbed into a third-place tie in the early season Western Conference standings.
Nurkic, who admitted to being out of shape and dealing with family issues back in Bosnia when the season began, appeared to be rounding into form as the Bosnian Beast fans have become accustomed to seeing. He was coming off his best game of the season in Portland’s 132-126 win over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night. Nurkic scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, had 3 steals and was a game-changer on defense in the final quarter of the win. Nurkic averaged 10.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in Portland’s first 11 games.
This was expected to be Nurkic’s first full season since he suffered a devastating leg fracture in March 2019. He didn’t play in an NBA game again until last summer when the Blazers made their late season push to reach the playoffs while in the NBA “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The return of a healthy Nurkic was a factor in the heightened expectations for the Blazers this season. After a disappointing 2019-20 season, most of which was without Nurkic, Portland was picked by many national experts to be one of the elite teams in the Western Conference.
While Nurkic isn’t available, it’s expected head coach Terry Stotts will turn to backup centers Enes Kanter and Harry Giles. Forward Zach Collins, who the team was hoping in the offseason could return in January, is out indefinitely after having ankle surgery in December.