In an odd sequence of events, Marcin Gortat suffered a broken nose during the third quarter of the Phoenix Suns' playoff-hopes-damaging 106-100 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night. After a Trevor Ariza 3-pointer (itself a relative rarity, coming from a 30 percent distance shooter), Gortat turned to head up court, smacked face-first straight into the back of Steve Nash's skull and dropped to the deck like a ton of bricks. The broken beak bled for 15 minutes, Gortat told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, knocking him out for the rest of the Friday night contest.
After the bleeding had stopped and a new day had dawned, the Suns center laughed about the injury. In an interview for his YouTube channel, he asked Nash how it felt to break the most famous nose in Poland, and noted for reporters the humor in avoiding serious pain while doing battle on the block against the likes of Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, only to get waylaid by "this one guy — 5-5 tall, maybe 5-5 and a half, 170-80 pounds, who doesn't eat meat."
Jokes aside, though, getting a broken nose reset must hurt something awful. Especially when you elect, as Gortat did Saturday, to have it done straight, no chaser. From Coro at the Republic (with video of the remarks coming courtesy of arizonasports.com):
[Gortat] had the nose reset Saturday, opting to have it done without medication.
"It was my fault," he said. "I should take an injection. It was painful. I don't want to use bad words. I had dirty pants almost."
And the pride of Łódź did more than just maintain control of his excretory function — he also got himself back in Alvin Gentry's lineup in time for Sunday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks. Eschewing a Richard Hamilton-style protective mask in favor of just some tape to keep the nose in place, Gortat made his second start in a Phoenix uniform, beasting his way to 20 points (on 8-for-13 shooting), 15 rebounds and three blocks in nearly 41 minutes of floor time.
Gortat's contributions came in a losing effort, as Dallas held on for a 91-83 win that dropped the Suns to the .500 mark at 36-36. It also put Phoenix four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with 10 games remaining. After the game, a disheartened Gortat told reporters that he didn't think the Suns would "be talking about playoffs this year anymore."
Some may bristle at what they perceive to be a defeatist tone in those post-game comments; others will recognize real and laud Gortat for turning in one of the best offensive and rebounding efforts of his career after getting his face blown up by a Canadian cruller. Whichever side you call home, I think we can all agree on one thing: It's good that he didn't evacuate.
Hat-tip to Basketbawful for the Gortat/Nash clip.