LAS VEGAS — After making it through the first two games of their Las Vegas Summer League schedule relatively unscathed, the Portland Trail Blazers suffered two injuries during Tuesday afternoon’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs at COX Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. How the Trail Blazers perform once tournament play starts Wednesday will likely depend on the severity of those injuries.
First, it was guard Pat Connaughton, who suffered a left hamstring strain midway through the second quarter. The second-year guard out of Notre Dame, who has started in all three of Portland’s 2017 summer league games, came up lame after finding Jake Layman streaking to the rim at roughly the six minute mark of the second quarter. Layman would eventually finish the play with a dunk, but Connaughton also came up grabbing at his left hamstring in what looked to be a non-contact injury.
“It was before the dish, I just had to make sure I got the ball (to Layman), I didn’t want another turnover,” said Connaughton of the injury. “It’ll be fine. It’s not something that I’ve had before so I knew something what a little bit wrong with it.”
After spending a moment laid out on the floor, Connaughton was able to walk back to the bench, but did not return to the game thereafter, even though he would have preferred to.
“If they let me put myself in harm’s way, I would have tried to (return),” said Connaughton, who finished the game with seven points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 11 minutes. “They wouldn’t let me play the rest of the game and it was probably the right decision if you look at it from an unbiased standpoint. Would I have liked to try and fight through it? Sure, but probably would have just hurt myself more.”
While the prospect of further injury kept Connaughton out of the second half of Tuesday’s loss, he’s hopeful that he’ll still be able to play when the Trail Blazers start tournament play on Wednesday afternoon.
“My hope was to get back in the second half (versus Spurs), but we’ll see how it goes,” said Connaughton. “Finally get to see a few shots fall down and then I hit the ground. We’ll see if we can’t get it back.”
Not long after Connaughton went down, rookie center Zach Collins suffered a right quad contusion that sidelined the former Gonzaga Bulldog for the remainder of the game. Collins said he believed he originally suffered the injury in Sunday’s 70-64 loss to the Celtics.
“I don’t know if I got hit or pulled something or what,” said Collins. “I don’t really know what it is yet, I just know it hurts. Probably last game it got hit but I’ve been doing treatment since that game, all day yesterday and even some today. It still doesn’t feel right so we’ll just have to keep doing it.”
While there’s never a good time to get injured, Collins’ quad contusion comes at an especially inopportune time for the 7-0 center selected with the 10th overall pick of the 2017 Draft. Even though he’s played well on the defensive end throughout summer league, Collins had struggled shooting from the field in the first two games, and just at it looked like he was making progress on that end during Tuesday’s game, he was fell by injury.
“It kind of sucks because I thought I was getting into a little bit of a rhythm, finally, offensively and then my leg kind of gave out,” said the Las Vegas native. “We’ll get on treatment tonight, I’ll be on it all day tomorrow before the game and hopefully I’ll get out there again.”
Whether Connaughton and Collins are able to return to the court for before the team is done in Las Vegas, which won’t be for at least two more games, will ultimately be decided by the team’s health and performance staff. Teams tend to play it safe at summer league when it comes to injuries, so if there’s any chance either player could worsen their respective conditions, one would imagine they’re held out, at least for their first round game on Wednesday. But while it is unknown if either will cleared to play, what is known is that given the opportunity, both would like to give it a go.
“I definitely want to play again,” said Collins. “Obviously I wish I could play this game. Hopefully we got to play all the way up until this weekend. But if I’m good to go, I’m going to play.”