The Trail Blazers first three games of their first round series against the Denver Nuggets were chippy at times to say the least.
After Game 4 with Portland evening up the series at two apiece following Saturday’s 115-95 victory, there was some major shade thrown or we should say, some major shade thrown back.
Portland held Denver to 34.0 percent from the field.
But when asked about slowing down the Nuggets and holding Nikola Jokic to 16 points, Jusuf Nurkic posed the question of -- was it the Blazers defense or was it just a bad shooting night for the Nuggets?
With a smile on his face, Nurkic said, “when they make shots, it’s a great offense, and when they miss shots it’s a bad offense for them, right?”
Come to find out, Nurkic was fired up about criticism from TV pundits on both social media and TV regarding his individual defense and overall play.
Former NBA big man and current ESPN analyst, Kendrick Perkins had plenty to say about Nurk and the Blazers defense following Portland’s loss in Game 3.
Perkins didn’t hold back.
As one would imagine, Nurkic, who prides himself on altering shots and anchoring the Blazers defense, didn’t take kindly to such a comment.
“I hear some clown say that I’m the worst defensive player in the league,” Nurkic said. “I don’t know if I’m able to talk about defense, if I’m the one.”
When asked to clarify whom he was talking about, Nurkic had much more to say.
Nurk went on to explain that his role is not to be the franchise player like it is for Jokic, adding that he realizes Perkins has to drum up controvesation and likes on Twitter.
“I know he has to get RTs and stuff like that, but I ain’t here for that,” Nurkic added.
The Blazers starting center didn’t actually see the tweet, but heard about it before Game 4.
CJ McCollum, who finished with 21 points in the win, didn’t know about the comments, but added, ““Well, if that’s what he did, that’s what it was, man,” as for using the tweet for any motivation.
Nurk recorded 17 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and one steal while finishing with an impressive plus-32.
And he didn't stop at the Perkins comments.
Following Game 2’s loss, Stephen A. Smith ripped Nurkic, asking, "where the hell are you?!" The TV personality also said Nurkic "gets on my damn nerves."
Well, Nurkic didn’t just let his play speak for itself when responding to the ESPN host.
“Obviously, I see Stephen A. coming after me,” he said.
Nurkic continued on Perkins, saying, “But coming from the guy, like I said who couldn’t play in this league right now… And he’s saying about defense. I don’t know, you tell me who he is and I’ll listen to him.”
Nurkic added that he doesn’t know if the comments actually motivated him and that he doesn’t think he did anything extremely different from Game 3 to Game 4 defensively.
But, he didn’t get into foul trouble, which he said was his focus.
After the game, Perkins reacted to the comments of being called a clown in what is now a deleted tweet.
Perkins deleted that tweet to instead let Nurkic know who he was as a player back in his day after posting this video of Kobe Bryant gassing him up.
But while a feud has been ignited against these two big men, Perkins got one thing right in his deleted tweet... Carry the hell on, Nurk!