Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will likely be sidelined again after leaving Saturday’s game with a strained right calf, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian writes in a subscriber-only story. It’s the second time this season that Lillard has suffered a calf strain, with the last occurrence forcing him to miss four games.
Lillard told reporters that the calf doesn’t feel as bad as it did when he hurt it on October 26, but he’s upset to be dealing with injuries again after missing most of last season with a core muscle issue.
“I sat for 10 months, basically,” he said. “I prepared myself to come back and be out there. I might have missed two games in my career one time for having a calf injury. And now, just having to deal with this is frustrating. Especially with the start that we’ve had.”
Lillard tweaked the calf in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to Utah while taking a jump shot in the third quarter. He felt the calf tighten as he ran back on defense and removed himself from the game as a precaution. He said he might have continued playing if the game had been more meaningful, which Fentress notes that he also said the last time he hurt his calf.
“I didn’t want to make it worse and then be in the same situation that I was before,” Lillard said.
Lillard had hoped to go back into the game, but team trainers advised against it after examining him. The Trail Blazers have been careful with their star guard since he returned to the lineup on November 7, Fentress adds. Lillard played again on November 9, but was held out the next night to reduce the risk of reaggravating the injury.
“I’ve got to respect what they say and I also can’t be a fool and fight my way through everything and hurt myself worse,” Lillard said. “It’s a hard thing to do because that’s not what I want to do. I’m always going to try to play. But once it’s done, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Lillard underwent an MRI Saturday night and there’s no indication from the Blazers how long he might be out of action. Portland will start a four-game road trip Monday in Milwaukee.