Playoffs 2017: West Semifinals -- Spurs (2) vs. Rockets (3)
Houston Rockets' Nene suffers season-ending thigh injury
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets said Nene was out for the rest of the season Monday, one day after the veteran backup center tore a muscle in his left thigh.
“I hate it for Nene,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s been so valuable all year, such a good guy.”
Nene was injured in the first quarter of Houston’s 125-104 win over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night and didn’t return. The team said it was reviewing treatment options for the torn adductor muscle.
Nene, a 15-year veteran in his first season with the Rockets, averaged 10 points and 4.7 rebounds in nine postseason games this year. The 6-foot-11 player was the star of Game 4 of Houston’s first-round series against Oklahoma City when he tied an NBA record by making all 12 of his shots and scoring career playoff-high 28 points in a 113-109 win.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio with the series tied 2-2.
The injury leaves Houston short on big men to contend with San Antonio’s combination of 6-11 LaMarcus Aldridge and 7-footer Pau Gasol. Clint Capela will remain the starter, but the Rockets will have to shuffle their rotation to make up for the loss of Nene.
Power forward Ryan Anderson, who is 6-10 but mostly an outside shooter, could be pressed into service at center to give Capela a break. Or Houston could use 6-8 athletic power forward Montrezl Harrell, who has played only sparingly in the postseason, to fill in.
“We’re still working on that. But some other guys are going to have to step up,” D’Antoni said. “Some guys are going to have to play a little more minutes. We’ll figure it out.”
Anderson started 72 games in the regular season and has started all nine games this postseason. But he could be asked to come off the bench to play center with the second team on Tuesday night like he did on Sunday after Nene was injured.
“It wouldn’t be a very good situation if me and Clint got into foul trouble. We want to play smart,” Anderson said. “Coming off the bench is something I’ve done in my career and I’m fine with it. Whatever I have to do to help the team and whatever’s best for this group.”