"I hate it for Nene," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's been so valuable all year and such a good guy. The good news is I don't think it's as bad as I'm hoping it wouldn't be. I think it's going to turn out that way. Obviously he's done for this series. We're just hoping he gets well quick."
James Harden said it was tough to see Nene go down with an injury.
"He's a big part of what we do," Harden said. "... Guys have to step up. It's an opportunity for guys who don't play big minutes and for guys like Montrezl [Harrell] who haven't really played and might get some opportunities. Whoever it is, we've got to try to fill that role."
Nene, a 15-year veteran, emerged as a key role player during his first season with the Rockets. He averaged 9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game during the regular season. He was even more productive during the playoffs, averaging 10.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game while shooting 70.6 percent from the floor.
D'Antoni used power forward Ryan Anderson as the backup to center Clint Capela with Nene sidelined Sunday afternoon. D'Antoni opted to pull Anderson from the starting lineup in the second half, replacing him with Eric Gordon to go with a three-guard look.
Anderson said he anticipates coming off the bench in Tuesday's Game 5 to allow him to play significant minutes at center.
"I've done it through my career," Anderson said. "Obviously I'm not a very conventional 5-man, but it also makes it difficult for the other team to figure out how to guard us with pick-and-pops or if I'm rolling to the basket or whatever it is. Our ability to run, we have to take those opportunities to our advantage."
Harrell, a second-year player who averaged 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the regular season, is another option to back up Capela. However, Harrell has played only 18 minutes during this postseason.