Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic admits to poor decision in losing temper vs. Thunder
Portland Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic was forced to watch the final minutes of Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the locker room, as he was ejected after a pair of on-court skirmishes with Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Nurkic and Westbrook first tangled in the second quarter. After a missed layup, Westbrook began to make his way towards the other end of the floor in transition, but he was tripped by Nurkic in the process. The trip appeared to be unintentional, but it led to Nurkic’s first technical of the night. Westbrook retaliated with a shove, which earned him a flagrant foul. Fans in the arena took note of what was happening and decided to boo Westbrook for the remainder of the game.
With the score tied at 111 and 30 seconds remaining in regulation, George made a driving attempt to the hoop. As he went up for the shot, he caught Nurkic in the face with an elbow. The ref let the two teams play on, and Terrance Ferguson put back George’s miss to give the Thunder a two point advantage. Clearly, the game was getting a bit chippy.
After a pair of called timeouts, Nurkic found himself battling in the paint for a rebound. He was fouled as he jockeyed for position. Nurkic thought it was George again, and the two players met forehead to forehead. As a result, Nurkic was given a second technical foul, effectively ending his night.
Nurkic, who finished Thursday night’s game with 13 points and seven rebounds, is taking the blame for escalating the situation:
“It’s my fault because I shouldn’t have put myself in that position,” Nurkic told ESPN. “Especially after the second hit from Paul George — after the whistle, he hit me in the face and I should not have stepped back towards him. That cost us the game.”
With Nurkic sidelined, Oklahoma City punished the Blazers in the paint, outscoring them 16-8 in the overtime frame.
“Every time we’ve played them over the years, it’s pretty much been a war — physical, close games, chippy,” Damian Lillard told ESPN after scoring a season-high 51 points. “This one was no different.”
The Trail Blazers will be back in action on Saturday, when they’ll welcome the Phoenix Suns to the Moda Center. Tip-off is set for 10:00 p.m. ET.