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Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard to undergo further evaluation and consultation for abdominal injury

The team said Lillard will miss the next three games and be reevaluated next week.
Credit: AP
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots ahead of Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard will miss at least the next three games while he undergoes further evaluation and consultation for a lower abdominal injury that has bothered him all season, the team announced Wednesday. The Blazers said Lillard will be reevaluated next week and the team will provide further updates "as appropriate."

Lillard has said in the past that he's dealt with the abdominal issue for the past three or four seasons. He played through it during last summer's Olympics, where he wasn't at the top of his game, shooting 38% from the field and 34% from the 3-point line.

Lillard has missed seven games because of the abdominal injury this season, the worst statistical campaign of his career. He's averaging 24 points and shooting 40.2% from the field and 32.4% from 3. The scoring average is his lowest since the 2014-15 season, his third in the league, and Lillard's field-goal and 3-point percentages are both the lowest of his career.

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In late November and early December, Lillard sat out five games over a stretch of nearly two weeks. After receiving a cortisone shot to help with the pain, he returned to action on Dec. 12 and after a couple rough performances, seemed to hit his stride, averaging 32.2 points while shooting 45.5% from the field and 43.8% from 3 over a six-game stretch from Dec. 15 to Dec. 29.

But Lillard played poorly on New Year's Eve against the Lakers, missing 10 of 15 shots, including seven of his eight 3-point attempts. He sat out the next game against the Hawks because of abdominal pain and will now miss at least the next three games.

BLAZERS' NEXT THREE GAMES

  • Wednesday: vs. Miami Heat, 7 p.m.
  • Friday: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday: vs. Sacramento Kings, 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report asked Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups if there had been any talk about "shutting Lillard down for an extended period of time" because the abdominal injury doesn't seem to improving. Billups said there would be a meeting soon, "putting all heads together," to talk about the next step for Lillard.

"I think that's probably going to be the route that we go if he doesn't get some kind of relief there," Billups told Highkin, referring to shutting Lillard down for an extended period of time.

In addition to Lillard, the Blazers may be without two other starters for their next game. Shooting guard CJ McCollum has missed the past 12 games while recovering from a collapsed right lung. The Blazers reported Dec. 23 that his lung was fully healed and that he'd been cleared for non-contact drills, increased condition and shooting, but it's unclear when he'll be cleared to play again. He's listed as out on the injury report for Wednesday's game against the Heat.

RELATED: 'This is mentally exhausting': Trail Blazers struggle under the weight of COVID outbreak

According to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, starting power forward Larry Nance Jr. had an inconclusive COVID-19 test Tuesday, which means he's now the 10th Blazers player to enter the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols since Christmas Eve. Fentress reported that Nance Jr. will need two negative tests before Wednesday's game in order to play against the Heat.

The Blazers have been one of the worst teams in the NBA this season. Only six teams — the Pacers (14-24), Thunder (13-23), Pelicans (13-25), Rockets (10-28), Pistons (7-28) and Magic (7-31) — have a worse record than Portland (14-22).

RELATED: Locked on Blazers: Should the Portland Trail Blazers embrace the tank?

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