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December 21, 2014

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Paul George’s brutal leg injury leaves USA Basketball shaken

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins and Chandler Parsons react after Paul George suffered a compound fracture of his lower leg during the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 | 9:35 p.m.

2014 USA Basketball Showcase

Paul George is wheeled out after fracturing his leg during the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

The silence told the story.

One moment, everyone inside the Thomas & Mack Center tonight for the USA Basketball Showcase was enjoying themselves and preparing for the final quarter of action. Then in a flash, Indiana Pacers guard Paul George was on the floor and the players near him couldn’t bring themselves to look.

While the diagnosis isn’t official, George snapped his right leg when his foot got caught underneath the stanchion. He went up to contest a James Harden layup and the resulting injury elicited expletives and covered mouths from fans who were able to watch replays while a stretcher was brought out to the court.

The game was called with 9:33 on the clock. All week the discussion at training camp had been about making the roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. After the game it was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

“Everything’s on hold, and it should be,” said coach Mike Krzyzewski. “It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else.”

The USA Basketball players weren’t available for comment. Many of them were visibly shaken up by the injury and a few attempted to console George’s family, who were on the court with him.

Krzyzewski said George was stoic while being tended to on the court. Managing director Jerry Colangelo said in the game’s aftermath he hadn’t had time to consider anything other than George’s health.

“This is a very tough blow,” Colangelo said, “not so much about us but about Paul.”

The distance from the stanchion that supports the basket to the baseline at the Mack will be discussed greatly in the coming days. FIBA and college rules have the stanchion closer to the out-of-bounds line than NBA rules do, and since that’s where George caught his foot it’s possible that those rules could be changing soon. It’s believed that the distance Friday night was the same that was used during the NBA Summer League at the Mack in July.

Those are conversations for the coming days. Tonight, all that Krzyzewski and other personnel could discuss was how sad they were for George and how they appreciated the fans’ support.

“I want to thank the crowd, the people of Las Vegas who were here, for understanding what was most important,” Krzyzewski said.

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