PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite aggravating his separated left shoulder during the first overtime period of Friday’s Game 3 against the Nuggets, Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter continued to play through the injury as Portland outlasted Denver 140-137 in quadruple OT, the longest NBA playoff game since 1953.
“First overtime, I think I separated my shoulder more,” Kanter said postgame. “I had to tuck my arm into my jersey because I couldn’t carry my arm. I’m glad we got a win, man. Whatever it takes. You’ve got to sacrifice everything. I’m proud of my teammates.”
Kanter originally suffered the injury during the clinching Game 5 of Portland’s first-round win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and was questionable to play heading into this series. But he logged 30-plus minutes in each of the first two games, playing a crucial role for a Blazers team that lost starting center Jusuf Nurkic in March to season-ending compound fractures to the tibia and fibula of his lower left leg.
The 37 minutes Kanter had logged in regulation were already a playoff high before he aggravated the injury. Afterward, Kanter said he could no longer feel his shoulder. Still, he remained in the game, eventually playing a career-high 56 minutes and recording his third double-double of the postseason (18 points, 15 rebounds).
“The whole crowd was cheering,” Kanter said. “Dame [Lillard] came up to me and said, ‘Hey, one more overtime.’ He said this three times. ‘One more overtime. Come on, let’s play hard.’ I didn’t want to quit on my teammate.”
In the locker room, Kanter had ice packs on both his injured left shoulder as well as his right elbow, having suffered an injury to the bursa sack in the elbow on a hard fall.
Though he was able to play through pain Friday, Kanter was less certain of his status for Sunday’s Game 4. His treatment between now and then will include painkillers, time in the cold tub and prayer.
“Sometimes you’ve got to make some sacrifices to get a win,” Kanter said. “I’ll get some painkillers for the next game. I hope I can play. But I’ll be fine.”
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