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Jusuf Nurkic is the NBA’s newest Balkan hero

Good morning. We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Jusuf Nurkic, the Bosnian behemoth who arrived in Portland just a month ago, put up crazy numbers against the Sixers on Thursday: 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks. (No one had gone for 25-20-5-5 since Kevin Garnett in 2003.)

Most importantly, the Blazers won in overtime. Portland is even with Denver in the loss column for the No. 8 seed and has won four straight.

The wrinkle, of course, is that Denver traded Nurkic to the Blazers for Mason Plumlee. Nurkic wasn't thriving in the Mile High City as Nikola Jokic took the reins for the offense. The Blazers have been in desperate need of a strong center all season — Plumlee's triple-double threats weren't exactly fear inducing — and they found it in Nurkic.

The real kicker here is that Denver also agreed to send a first-round pick to the Blazers because it so badly wanted Plumlee. That pick belongs to Memphis, so it will end up around No. 20 in this year's derby.

Meanwhile, Plumlee is averaging nine and seven for Denver and will be a restricted free agent in July. Nurkic is averaging 16-9-4-2 for Portland and has another year left on his rookie deal. Portland got the best player, best contract, and best pick in this trade. And best of all, the trade looks like it will help the Blazers steal their trade partner's playoff spot. Unbelievable.

(By the way. Thursday marked Blazer's Edge Night at Moda Center. That's where members of Blazer's Edge buy gobs of tickets for disadvantaged youth. Now that these kids have experienced the Bosnian Beast at peak form, we need to raise money to buy 2,000 Nurkic jerseys.)

Scores Galore ...

CLE 101, DET 106
LAC 114, MEM 98
SAS 92, OKC 102
PHI 108, POR 114 (OT)
LAL 122, PHX 110

... And Plenty More

I made the case that no one deserves the Rookie of the Year award this year. Of course, Dario Saric went and scored 28 on Thursday. If he ends up around 14 or 15 points per game and his shooting percentages continue to tick up, I will retract my verdict.

Interesting piece from Rob Mahoney on how the '96 Mavericks were the Warriors before the Warriors (and without the success).

Why has the Warriors' offense fallen apart without Kevin Durant? Weren't these guys historically good without Durant last year?

Gregg Popovich is not really interested in the whole award campaigning thing.

Look at LeBron James dunking seven times in a game for the first time since 2008! Some of these dunks were vicious.

Lonzo Ball Is Life.

How Kawhi Leonard manages his weight. Check your water's pH levels!

We have a huge Saturday night game: Warriors at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC. Durant is definitely out, and Kawhi is iffy due to a head injury suffered Thursday. If Leonard plays, though, this will be a big deal.