Silence fell over Ball Arena as Will Barton lay motionless on the court while surrounded by Nuggets teammates.
Denver hammered Portland on Thursday night, but for a few tense moments late in the third quarter, the team’s only real concern was Barton. He slipped on a drive to the rim and slammed his head against the knee of Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. Barton instantly crumpled to the floor.
“A scary moment, obviously,” coach Michael Malone said. “Nothing dirty. Nothing malicious. It was just an unfortunate play.”
Whole team is gathered around Will Barton, who’s still down. pic.twitter.com/RlXs6pCQtN
— Mike Singer (@msinger) January 14, 2022
Barton eventually rose to his feet with the assistance of Denver’s medical staff and went into the locker room. Relief filled the arena when he later returned to the bench. Barton cheered along with teammates as the Nuggets’ reserves closed out an easy win.
“I was just trying to make a play and get to the rim,” Barton said. “My defender (CJ Elleby), when he saw me try to get into his body, he backed up, so I lost balance. I ran into Nurk. … My neck kind of whipped back. Just hurt it for a little while. That’s all.”
Malone added: “We took (Barton) into the back and the doctors cleared him. He’s OK, thank goodness, that’s more important than anything.”
It’s been a challenging week for the Nuggets’ versatile shooting guard. A COVID testing…