The Portland Trail Blazers‘ senseless loss to the Dallas Mavericks got worse in the final minutes on Tuesday night, when star Damian Lillard landed awkwardly on Mavs center Salah Mejri’s foot and turned his left ankle.
Lillard remained in the game for the final three minutes of a 115-109 loss, but told reporters in the locker room, “It was painful. I was able to finish the game, but it’s a lot worse when the game is over.”
Yahoo’s Shams Charania reported on Wednesday that Lillard is listed as day to day, but does not expect to play in Thursday’s showdown with the Houston Rockets.
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is day-to-day with left ankle injury and is expected to miss Thursday's game in Houston, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 4, 2018
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 4, 2018
The three-time All-Star then left the arena on a cart, according to NBC Sports Northwest’s Jason Quick:
Lillard was transported from locker room to team bus via cart because of his sprained left ankle. pic.twitter.com/62CQVMMqd7
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) April 4, 2018
The Blazers lead the Jazz and Spurs by three games for the Western Conference’s third seed with four to play. They face a tough schedule the rest of the way, embarking on a three-game road trip through Houston, San Antonio and Denver before returning home for the season finale against Utah next week.
Suddenly, Portland’s grip on the No. 3 spot isn’t written in stone, especially without Lillard, a fringe MVP candidate who makes the Blazers a legit threat in the West. And it appears he could miss games.
“I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I’m going to be smart about it,” Lillard said, via Quick. “It’s the end of the season, we are going into the playoffs, so I have to be smart that one thing doesn’t turn into another.”
The Blazers should still be able to lock down the third seed, and dropping a spot in the standings wouldn’t be the worst of things, what with a second-round series against Golden State looming for whichever team emerges from a 3-6 series. The hope is that what appeared to be a sprain isn’t so severe that it prevents Lillard from entering the playoffs healthy in 10 days time. With Lillard, Portland is a favorite to reach a third conference semifinals in five years. Without him? They’d be in trouble.
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