Damian Lillard returns to Blazers roster but team struggle continues

Damian Lillard returned to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night after a five-game absence with an abdominal injury, but that didn’t stop their slide as they dropped out for a fifth game in a row.

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Injuries, inconsistent play, and poor laning record (2-8) have caused the Blazers to have a slow start to the season, with their laning record tied to rebuilding the Oklahoma City Thunder and only the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons. worse record.

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The Blazers’ chance of salvation was their stellar game at home, however, after starting the season with an impressive 10-1 record at Moda Center, they’ve lost their past four games at home. and the past five games, dropping to 11th place. The Western Conference at 11-16 of the season.

With CJ McCollum still sidelined with a collapsed right lung and no clear timeline on when he will return, Lillard’s return is the shot in the arm the Blazers need to help the season. Their tournament was back on track, but in his first game out, the six-time All-Star looked far from his best form. While he finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he shot just 5/17 from the field, 3 of 14 from outside the arc and had 5 of 19 transfers. Ball of Blazers. .

“He seems to be moving pretty well,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups says. “Just a ruckus from not playing basketball for a few weeks.”

After Larry Nance Jr tied everything at 106-106 with a 2:28 scoreline, the Blazers failed to score for the next two minutes, before Lillard grabbed a treble in time to cut it down to three points. but that’s as close as they got to the Timberwolves to win 116-111.

“We don’t do anything for long enough,” Lillard said after the game. “During the game, it was like we had good moments but we couldn’t maintain it on either side. We do good things for a few assets and then we have some bad assets. I think it’s at both ends of the ring and it would be difficult to win a match like that. ”

With the win, the Timberwolves broke their own five-game unbeaten streak, while the Blazers’ five-game loss was their longest drought of the season.

The road ahead hasn’t been easier for Lillard and co, with some tough games in their next 10 games, including games against the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies (twice), Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz , Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks .

The good news is that at least half of their audience is back in the ring, and Lillard hopes he’ll be back to his best sooner rather than later.

“I knew I would get better,” he said. “I’m just glad I feel so much better.”

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