A wincing, hobbling Damian Lillard was tasked with trying to walk off pain yet again.
Seconds earlier, early in the third quarter of a tie game, the Trail Blazers superstar had his left foot stepped on by Mason Plumlee as he attempted to chase a long rebound, sending him down to the floor in a heap. Any fall Lillard takes is reason for concern given his monumental importance to Portland, but this one became especially troubling when he turned on his side and immediately grabbed at that balky left knee.
The way Lillard eventually made his way past halfcourt as the Blazers initiated offense, it was fair to assume he'd be best off spending the remainder of Wednesday's game getting treatment in the locker room.
Lillard had already missed last week's win over the Orlando Magic to rest his tender left knee. His rebuilt supporting cast is certainly good enough to propel Portland to victory against a team like Detroit without him, too.
But Lillard didn't even consider asking Terry Stotts for a sub. On the Blazers' following possession, in fact, he was suddenly no worse for wear, blasting off his left leg with his devastating hesitation dribble before finishing over Plumlee with a finger roll.
Note the leg Lillard took off on, too. So much for worries about his knee.
Lillard dropped 33 points and 10 assists on the Pistons, going 5-of-7 from three and 10-of-11 at the free throw line. It was his first outing scoring at least 30 points since March 19, and capped a four-game stretch during which he shot 34.2 percent overall and 7-of-36 from beyond the arc.
After the game, Lillard put his performance in perspective by listing all the minor maladies that have plagued have plagued him over the last few weeks. It hasn't just been the left knee, remember, that's caused him to exhibit palpable pain on the court this season.
"Against New York I got kneed in my right knee," Lillard said. "Then against OKC, at OKC, I got kneed in my left knee. It was like a bruise on both of my quad tendons...It was kind of limiting my movement, it was limiting how I dip into my jumpshot...I think the second game against Dallas, I got kneed in that same spot again...And then the Miami game, at the end of the game I got kneed in my right one again."
Lillard forgot another injury he recalled seconds later: a bruise in his shooting hand after colliding with New Orleans big man Steven Adams.
The good news? Lillard swears he felt no real pain on the court; his symptoms manifested mostly in decreased mobility. He says he's "starting to feel better" after recent time off, too.
Just imagine how dominant Lillard will be, then, once he reaches full health. Here's hoping he gets there before the playoffs.