Nerlens Noel injury update: Thunder C (concussion) out of hospital after scary fall

Thunder big man Nerlens Noel was released from the hospital Wednesday after being held overnight as a precaution, the result of suffering a concussion in a scary fall during Tuesday night’s game against the Timberwolves, the team announced.

He has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and there is no timeline for his return, the Thunder said in Wednesday’s update.

Noel, 24, was contesting a dunk midway through the third quarter when the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins’ elbow hit him in the face. Noel then fell and banged the side of his head on the floor. According to the Thunder, he briefly lost consciousness, but he was moving as medical personnel tended to him before he was stretchered from the floor in a neck brace.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game that Noel was taken to OU Medical Center.

After the play, Thunder guard Dennis Schroder was seen talking to the Timberwolves as they huddled, reported. Though Noel was called for a foul on the play, Schroder apparently was unhappy about the incident and was exchanging words with Wiggins.

Wiggins addressed the incident after the game.

“I just tried to make an aggressive move and dunk,” he 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.”

He subsequently tweeted “prayers out” to Noel.

Thunder center Steven Adams said Wiggins didn’t intentionally try to hurt Noel.

“It was just a really s— play and unfortunate that it happened,” Adams said. “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.”

Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Noel will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. The process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case, the Thunder noted. 

Noel is averaging five points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 2018-19.

The Thunder went on to lose to to the Timberwolves, 119-117, dropping them to 25-15 on the season.