Ime Udoka sees Alperen Sengun’s final injury diagnosis as good news for Rockets

SAN ANTONIO — Prior to Tuesday’s matchup versus the Spurs, Houston Rockets head coach Ime Udoka confirmed center Alperen Sengun will miss several weeks after being diagnosed with a Grade 3 right ankle sprain, along with a bone bruise to his knee.

The third-year big man was injured late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 112-104 victory in Sacramento when he landed awkwardly after contesting a shot by Kings center Domantas Sabonis. Sengun fell to the baseline in agonizing pain, and medical staff used a wheelchair to take him to the locker room.

“Some relief,” Udoka said when asked about the final diagnosis. “Obviously you hate to see him miss time in general, but the best news is that it is not broken, and no ligaments torn. Although he will be out for several weeks, in the big picture, it was good news.”

Udoka also had an opportunity to speak with Sengun after being diagnosed with no broken bones.

“He was happy to get that news,” Udoka told reporters Tuesday. “Not only was it a painful injury that looked bad, but he was probably just scared on the court at that time.”

Sengun had a great season, averaging 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in 63 starts for Houston. Coach Udoka will have to shuffle his starting lineup to fill the void in the middle.

On Tuesday, he turned to second-year forward Jabari Smith Jr., who often uses his offensive skills to draw bigger and more physical defenders out of the lane. He will also play with his back to the basket on different sets, which he has no issue with.

“Me setting the screen makes it hard for them (opposing centers) to switch,” Smith told Rockets Wire before the game. “Just me with my speed. I feel like it is harder for bigger people to guard me.”

Smith’s versatility can also make him a menace on the defensive end. Ideally, this puts the Rockets in a situation where they will have quicker players on the floor to help prevent open 3-point shots, which they have struggled with at many junctures of the 2023-24 season

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire