Blazers star Damian Lillard carted out of arena after suffering 'painful' injury

Portland’s senseless loss to Dallas got worse in the final minutes on Tuesday night, when Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard landed awkwardly on Mavericks 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.”

The three-time All-Star then left the arena on a cart, according to NBC Sports Northwest’s Jason Quick:

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.

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Damian Lillard through his career
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 27: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on March 27, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard from Weber State University shakes hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Portland Trailblazers as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA basketball Draft in Newark, New Jersey, June 28, 2012 REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives against San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during third quarter of their NBA basketball game in Portland, Oregon, December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
West All-Star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers takes part in the All-Star Skills competition during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend in Houston, Texas, February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
West All-Star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers holds the trophy after winning the Skills Challenge during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend in Houston, Texas, February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Apr 25, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) looks to pass around Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) during the first quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) celebrates with Portland Trail Blazers point guard Mo Williams (25) after scoring a basket late during the fourth quarter of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Moda Center. The Blazers won the game 110-107. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) moves past San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph (5) during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots over Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) during the second quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) heads down court after a 3 point basket during the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Trail Blazers won 124-112. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after making a three point basket against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket on Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the third quarter of the game at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies forward Tony Allen (9) during the second quarter in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the third quarter of the game against the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Lillard scored 51 points as the Blazers won the game 137-105. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-20T060050Z_338859388_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-GOLDEN-STATE-WARRIORS-AT-PORTLAND-TRAIL-BLAZERS.JPG
Mar 4, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) celebrates after making a basket against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Trail Blazers 117-115. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-04-24T042837Z_1049404063_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-PLAYOFFS-LOS-ANGELES-CLIPPERS-AT-PORTLAND-TRAIL-BLAZERS.JPG
Mar 18, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after a basket in the first quarter of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during Team Stephen practice at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) dribbles around Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) during the third quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 1: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 1, 2018 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
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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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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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