After the Portland Trail Blazers’ 101-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Friday night, all eyes turned to center Jusuf Nurkic, who left the locker room before reporters arrived after not playing for most of the fourth quarter.
OregonLive’s Joe Freeman possibly shed some light on the situation in his postgame recap, stating that at least one member of the Blazers’ coaching staff showed signs of frustration toward Nurkic during the game.
Nurkic led the Blazers with 21 points, making 10 of 20 shots, and seemingly could have been a difference-maker against a team that played small and struggles to contain talented bigs. But Stotts said he went away from Nurkic in the make-or-break or break fourth because he felt the Blazers were "giving up too much" defensively against the Nets' small lineups and preferred the athleticism of Davis. At least twice, assistant coach David Vanterpool popped up from the bench and screamed at Nurkic for what appeared to be a lack of defensive hustle.
This was the second consecutive game where Nurkic did not play during the tense final minutes. Portland lost both games and fell to .500 for the season. Nurkic is a free agent after the season, and the overall market may be softer than expected.
The 6-6 Blazers will play Nurkic’s former team, the 7-5 Denver Nuggets, Monday night at Moda Center.