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Indiana Pacers star suffers broken leg

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Paul George was taken off the court after suffering a serious leg injury on Friday night © AP
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Indiana Pacers star Paul George suffered a gruesome lower right leg fracture during the US national team's intrasquad scrimmage at UNLV on Friday and underwent successful surgery later that night.

In a statement released after surgery was completed, USA Basketball confirmed George suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture and is expected to remain hospitalized for about three days. Dr. Riley Williams, a Team USA orthopedist who also works with the Brooklyn Nets, was with George.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN that while there was no additional damage besides the fractures, doctors believe George likely will miss all of next season, though no official prognosis has been given.

George's leg landed and then buckled at the base of the basket stanchion after he fouled James Harden on a drive to the basket just 27 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Nearby team-mates immediately reacted, with Harden doubling over as George recoiled on the baseline.

Medics, US coach Mike Krzyzewski and members of George's family who were at the game rushed to his side.

His right leg was put in an air cast, and he was taken to a Las Vegas hospital after being treated for about 15 minutes on the court. His family members accompanied him there.

George later took to Twitter:

The Pacers issued a statement Saturday about George's injury and prognosis.

"It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No.1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic," president of basketball operations Larry Bird said. "There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. ... Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help."

After George left in an ambulance Friday night, the rest of the game - a showcase scrimmage between players in camp for the US as it looks to trim its roster ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain that begins August 30 was cancelled.

The White team led George's Blue team 81-71 at the time. The game took place at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, and a source said the league is investigating the placement of the basket stanchion there. The league standard is for the stanchion and any photographers to be four feet from the baseline. The stanchion appeared to be closer than a normal NBA arena, but very close to the four-foot standard.

"This is a tough blow, not only for USA basketball but for the Indiana Pacers," Colangelo said. "And so as an organization we're just going to let a little time go by here before we address rosters. ... It seems so unimportant in the scheme of things. When you have something like this, it puts things in perspective."

George was considered a lock to make the final 12-man roster for the World Cup.

The Americans planned to reduce the 20-player pool to 14 or 15 players Saturday but put off those plans after George's injury.

"Everything's on hold, and it should be," Krzyzewski said. "It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else when there is an injury like this."

No Team USA players were made available afterward. They walked out of the locker room and straight to the team bus.

Reaction to George's injury among his NBA colleagues was immediate, with fellow All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade among those taking to Twitter to express their concern:

Fellow U.S. teammates Harden and Kevin Durant also addressed the injury on Twitter:

George, 24, had emerged as one of the top all-around players in the NBA. The two-time All-Star averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season.

"It was difficult to watch the injury that Paul George sustained tonight while representing his country," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the NBA are with Paul and his family."

Earlier this week, while with the US team for camp, George acknowledged that a big NBA season for him awaited, especially after the Pacers' second-half fade in 2013-14.

"The eyes are on me this year," George said. "I've got a lot of pressure and I'm coming into this year ready to live up to that pressure."

George signed a five-year, $90 million extension with the Pacers last fall that was set to kick in this season.

The defending champion US team, meanwhile, already had been weakened by player losses.

Forwards Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard all had pulled out in recent weeks.

George would have been a candidate to start for the Americans alongside Durant. The two, along with Harden, spent the week playing in one-on-one competitions after practice, pushing each other while building chemistry leading up to Friday night's game.

The US is scheduled to take the next week off before reconvening in Chicago for its next practice August 14.

Some NBA executives have long been concerned about injuries to players during summer competitions.

Pau Gasol, then playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, broke his foot while leading Spain to the 2006 world title, and Manu Ginobili injured his ankle while playing for Argentina in the 2008 Olympics. He is sitting out the World Cup while recovering from a stress fracture in his right leg.

"Anything can happen anywhere, a lot of things happen,'' said Krzyzewski, who was coaching Duke against Louisville when the Cardinals' Kevin Ware broke his leg during the 2013 NCAA tournament. "Tonight it happened during a basketball game. We need to take care of that. It doesn't mean it'll happen again and again and again; it means that it happened right now. And we need to take care of right now appropriately and then move on.''

Bird echoed that sentiment in his statement on Saturday.

"We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide," Bird said. "This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere."

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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