Damian Lillard hit a couple of critical shots for Team USA in the fourth quarter of the gold medal game against France, helping propel the USA to its fourth straight gold. Kevin Durant said Lillard “took over for us” in the fourth.
But for most of the Tokyo Olympics, Lillard had not looked like himself. He shot 35% from 3 (down from 39.1% in the regular season) and just 38% overall (down from 45.1%), plus he passed up chances to drive and attack the rim at points. Now we know why — Lillard was playing through an abdominal injury. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Sources: Damian Lillard played through an abdomen injury during Team USA’s Tokyo Olympics run, which will require further testing upon return to the States. Lillard wanted to continue playing to help USA capture the gold medal.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 7, 2021
That is a vague description of the injury, and the “further testing” part is concerning, but if it were something serious Team USA would have shut him down. The injury didn’t stop Lillard from playing — or lifting a champagne bottle.
Champagne Dame pic.twitter.com/zQigoKkFpn
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) August 7, 2021
Lillard is now off for nearly two months until training camps open on Sept. 28. While he will be working out and getting in shape between now, Lillard will have time to recover from whatever this injury is.
And he can celebrate a gold medal while doing it.