While there were plenty of turnovers committed by the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night in their 107-98 loss to the Miami Heat, there were also plenty of potential injury concerns... Among other concerns.
After sitting out of Saturday’s game against the Pistons, Jusuf Nurkic returned to action when the Blazers took the floor Sunday.
But he took a hard spill late in the second quarter and got up holding his lower back.
The team announced, at halftime, that Nurkic had suffered a sacral contusion, but he did return to start the second half.
The good news:
X-rays on Nurkic’s lower back came back negative.
More good news:
Nurkic’s limited minutes on the floor are increasing.
The 26-year-old had been on a 20-minute restriction since returning to game action on Mar. 26 after suffering a fractured right wrist against the Indiana Pacers on January 14th. Five days later he had surgery to repair it.
Hours before tip-off against the Heat, head coach Terry Stotts said that Nurk’s minutes would be bumped up to a roughly 25-minute limit.
Plus, the team had held Nurkic out of one game on back-to-backs for precautionary reasons, while the big man has also dealt with knee inflammation this week.
“I feel good,” Nurkic said following his seventh game back Sunday. “Obviously the first couple of back-to-backs I was worried about it…. All I care is – have the healthiest team for the playoffs.”
In the loss, Nurkic finished with six points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes of work.
The Blazers also lost Enes Kanter late in the third quarter for a brief moment after he took a shoulder to the head. He returned to the game in the final period.
Coach Stotts explained that he believed the Heat looked like the “fresher team” with Portland playing the night before.
But for Jusuf Nurkic, he thinks there’s more to it.
Nurkic added that he and the team are still working to integrate him back into the rotation now that he’s healthy again, along with adding Norman Powell to the mix.
The 7-footer says he understands the fans' frustrations with Portland dropping three of their last four and that the players themselves are frustrated too.
As he looks forward to not be limited in minutes, the Bosnian Beast knows that his minute restrictions has limited coach Stotts’ rotation.
But Nurkic is taking accountability.
“I just don’t feel like we understand our potential to be honest with you. I think we don’t give our self credit when we play good. We’ve never been in this organization too high or too low.
“I think at this point the only thing that could change is just our self to do it.”