OKLAHOMA CITY — Thunder center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game against Minnesota after the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins made contact with him on a dunk attempt.
Noel took an elbow in the face as Wiggins went up, and Noel’s head hit the ground hard. A defensive foul was called on Noel. The play was reviewed, and no additional fouls were called. Noel was down for several minutes before being taken from the court. Players from both teams jawed at each other while Noel was on the ground.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game that Noel was taken to the University of Oklahoma’s OU Medical Center. He did not offer details on the injury, but an update on Noel’s status is expected Wednesday.
Wiggins said he didn’t mean to hurt Noel.
“I just tried to make an aggressive move and dunk,” Wiggins said. “He tried to contest it. I think he fell wrong. I didn’t really see it until I saw him on the ground. Hopefully, he’s good. I hope nothing but the best for him. I hope he gets healthy soon and comes back stronger.”
After the game, Wiggins tweeted: “My prayers out to you @NerlensNoel3“
My prayers out to you 🙏🏾 @NerlensNoel3
— andrew wiggins (@22wiggins) January 9, 2019
A few minutes after the collision, there was a skirmish between Thunder guard Dennis Schroder and Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague. Two technicals were called on Teague and he was ejected. Schroder also was called for a technical.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Wiggins said of Schroder, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “He was acting crazy for no reason. I looked right through it. He’s not someone I see as a problem. Not at all.”
Thunder players were upset over Noel’s injury, with some chiming in on what happened after the game.
“Just pray for him is all you can do,” Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson told Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. “Just send prayers up and hopefully that he’s all fine. Hopefully we’ll hear some good news back later on.”
“It was just a really s*** play and unfortunate that it happened,” Adams told reporters after the game. “Obviously, Wiggins didn’t mean to do any of that. He shouldn’t be taking any blame for that whatsoever. It’s just one of those crazy plays that happen. Fortunately they responded quite quickly, the medical staff. We felt like he was in the best hands at the time.”
Minnesota won the game 119-117.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.