Shortly before the Portland Trail Blazers' play-in game versus the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, center Jusuf Nurkic announced on social media that his grandmother died from COVID-19. Then, the hulking native of Bosnia recorded one of the biggest lines of his career.
Nurkic dropped 22 points, 21 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and two steals in the 126-122 win over Memphis. The victory clinched the Blazers' seventh straight postseason appearance.
"I didn't want to play," Nurkic reflected postgame, according to ESPN's Tim Bontemps. "I think she made me play."
Nurkic recently asked the public to use masks after his grandmother was hospitalized with COVID-19.
The Blazers big man made his long-awaited return in Orlando after suffering a left tibia and fibula compound fracture late in the 2018-19 season. Saturday's game marked only the ninth meaningful outing since his return to the lineup.
Nurkic averaged 17.6 points, 10.3 boards, four assists, two blocks, and 1.4 steals across eight seeding games.