Before the Nuggets flipped him to Portland for one of the Plumlee twins, Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic was averaging 17 disgruntled minutes and eight points a game. Since the trade, he’s started almost all of Portland’s games and has nearly doubled his stats across the board as the Blazers have steadily drawn closer to the Nuggets for the eight seed in the West. The two teams met tonight and Nurkic showed Denver what he thought of them, going off for a career-high 33 points along with 16 boards, three blocks, and two assists in Portland’s 122-113 victory.
Nurk did all of his work inside, taking each one of his 15 shots inside of the restricted area. Denver did not appear to have anyone who could handle him, and even much-lauded former teammate Nikola Jokic stood no chance of stopping Nurkic. He was simply too large and energetic.
The Portland faithful treated him to a loving chant as the game ended.
Nurkic earned a postgame interview on Portland TV, which he used to wish Denver a happy summer.
This is not only good shit-talking, but Nurkic is probably also right that the Nuggets will be watching the playoffs from the couch. Denver now trails Portland by one game and the Nuggets have six of their final eight games on the road. None of them are against openly tanking teams. Meanwhile, Portland has the tiebreaker over Denver, gets the Suns once, the Timberwolves twice, and has six home games. FiveThirtyEight gives Portland a 92 percent chance of making the playoffs, where they will get a chance to avenge their defiant 2016 playoff death at the hands of the Warriors. Looks like Portland got the better of this trade.