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Fans hold breath as Meyers Leonard sprains ankle

Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden … Meyers Leonard?

Trail Blazers fans may have been asking that question for a few anxious moments Saturday night.

With 9:01 remaining in an 89-85 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Leonard went up for a rebound. The No. 11 overall draft pick of 2012 came down hard on his right leg.

The announced sellout crowd of 20,569 was relatively silent as Leonard lay on the court. A few random calls of “Get up, buddy” and “You’re fine” rang out from the seats. For the most part, though, the fans held their breath, hoping that the term “center curse” were not going to have to be discussed in Portland AGAIN.

Then the video scoreboard showed the replay. It showed Leonard's leg locking and bending backward.

“I heard everyone go ‘Ooooh,’” Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said.

The Blazers reported the injury to Leonard, who was not available for interviews, as a sprained ankle. The club said X-rays were negative.

Batum was standing next to Leonard when the 7-1, 250-pounder went down.

“I saw him on the ground,” Batum said. “I saw him scream.”

Leonard had played 14 minutes and scored four points against Philadelphia.

“Meyers was playing a good game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “It was one of his more energetic games.”

If Leonard needs time to heal, the role of backup center to starter J.J. Hickson most likely would fall to rookie Joel Freeland. The 6-11, 230-pound Englishman has been averaging 2.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.3 assists in nine minutes per game.

“I’m ready,” Freeland said. “I always feel like I’m ready. I’m on the bench, I’m ready to go every moment. Whenever (Stotts) calls my name, I’m going to go out there and try to produce. I’ve been doing it in the past few games.”