Friday’s quadruple-overtime thriller that saw the Portland Trail Blazers take a 2-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets featured many memorable moments — big shots, big turnovers and a game the NBA hasn’t seen the likes of since 1953.
Lost in the shuffle was a hard elbow delivered by Denver’s All-Star center Nikola Jokic in the direction of Portland’s Enes Kanter and his recently separated left shoulder.
But Kanter didn’t forget about it.
Kanter was questionable to play to start the series after suffering the injury late in Portland’s first-round win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kanter to NBA: ‘Take a freaking look’ at Jokic elbow
But he started Game 1 and has played well through the painful injury. He did not appreciate Jokic’s physical play in Game 3 and didn’t even get to bed early Saturday before pleading with NBA officials to “take a freaking look” at the play.
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019
Kanter’s biggest struggle with the injury has been pain management. He talked after Game 1 about using painkillers and injections to stay on the floor. That looked like it hurt.
Terry Stotts: ‘I certainly don’t approve of it’
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts took a look at the play after the game and talked about it Saturday. He, too, is not pleased with the play.
“Yes, I have seen it and I think it was uncalled for,” Stotts told reporters Saturday. “I don’t know if the league will review it or not, but I certainly didn’t approve of it.”
The NBA hasn’t responded, and it seems unlikely any action will be taken for what would generally be chalked up to a hard playoff play.
But if the league decides to review the play, it has the option of assessing a flagrant foul retroactively if it sees fit.
Michael Malone backs Jokic
Nuggets coach Michael Malone — to nobody’s surprise — didn’t have a problem with the play and stood up for his best player. Like a true coaching pro, he used the moment to point the finger back at what he saw as hard screens set by the Trail Blazers in the series.
"Normal play," Malone told reporters. "I think Terry is off-base there. Personally, I don't think it was anything malicious. Just like some of their screens in the first two games, I don't think there was anything malicious to it — with Kanter getting tossed into Torrey Craig. This is the playoffs. We're all big boys, let's go out and play the game accordingly.
"I have known Nikola Jokic for four years," Malone continued, “He doesn't have that kind of personality, he doesn't have that DNA gene where he's going to go out there and make non-basketball plays and try to hurt anybody or do anything that is beyond the limits of what is sportsmanship and what is not sportsmanship. So I would definitely not agree with Terry's assessment."
Kanter says shoulder in worse shape
Kanter told reporters after Friday’s game that he felt like he “separated my shoulder more” during the game. The Blazers did not provide a status update for Kanter ahead of Sunday’s Game 4.
A series that’s getting less attention than the other three conference semifinal matchups sure is shaping up to be the most interesting of the playoffs.
Saturday, May 4