Blazers' Evan Turner out 5 to 6 weeks with broken right hand

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Evan Turner dribbles with his right hand, before the ... unpleasantness. (Getty Images)
Evan Turner dribbles with his right hand, before the … unpleasantness. (Getty Images)

After a rough start to his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Evan Turner has come on a bit of late, sliding into the starting lineup and generally looking more comfortable with his role on a Portland squad that has struggled to reclaim the form that made them a playoff team last year. Unfortunately for both Turner and the Blazers, though, that uptick got interrupted during Tuesday’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, as the veteran swingman suffered an injury to his shooting hand that will keep him out of the lineup for some time.

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Turner appeared to injure the hand trying to work through a Harrison Barnes screen with 7:45 remaining in the third quarter:

He missed a 3-pointer on the Blazers’ next possession, clearly favoring the hand after the shot, and winced in pain after hitting it against Barnes’ chest on a defensive trip two minutes later … but, after a Wesley Matthews turnover landed right in Turner’s healthy left hand, he had no qualms about pushing the ball up the floor and running the break for an Al-Farouq Aminu layup:

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That bucket led to a Mavericks timeout, at which point Turner checked out of the game. Shortly thereafter, word came down from the Blazers that his paw was busted:

Turner wouldn’t return, finishing with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, four assists, two rebounds and three turnovers in 23 minutes. Following a wild finish that featured eight lead changes in the final 1:46 of regulation, Portland would score a 114-113 victory on a game-winning floater by C.J. McCollum with 0.3 seconds remaining.

Turner said after the game that he was told “it didn’t look like [the bone] would” need surgical repair, though further testing would be needed to confirm the prognosis. The results of that testing came Wednesday. The good news: he really doesn’t need surgery. The bad news: he’s still expected to be out for five to six weeks.

A 2014 analysis by Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes found that return-to-play times for a third metacarpal fracture varied sharply among players in his database who hadn’t required surgery, ranging from four games (Paul Pierce, 2013) all the way up to 17 games (Marvin Williams, 2006). Turner’s expected timetable would fall on the heavier end of that spectrum, keeping him out for between 15 and 19 games.

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Earlier this season, the prospect of missing Turner wouldn’t have seemed especially dire, as he struggled to find a comfort level whether sharing the floor with star guards Lillard and McCollum or acting as a ball-handler and playmaker off the bench. The light has started to come on of late, though.

Turner’s field-goal percentage and production picked up after Christmas, and since head coach Terry Stotts’ decision late last month to slide him into the starting lineup, Turner had shown a bit more punch and playmaking panache, averaging 11.1 points, 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per game in the eight games since the move heading into Tuesday. Now, though, his burgeoning rhythm will be disrupted; the only questions are whether he’ll be able to rediscover it come late March, and whether the Blazers will be able to ride out his absence well enough to stay in the chase for the West’s No. 8 playoff seed.

For his part, the eminently quotable and goofy Turner said after the game he wished only that the injury “had come with a better story,” according to Mike Richman of the Oregonian:

“It was just a janky injury,” he said after the game, with a brace covering his hand and most of his right forearm. “I would much rather have been going up for a dunk or something cool like that, not playing defense and chasing someone over a screen.”

Look on the bright side, Evan. At least you got to drop one last dime before hitting the injured list.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!