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Damian Lillard will not return Monday vs. Magic as he rehabs groin in Portland

Damian Lillard, Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has been ruled out of Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic as he continues to rehab a groin strain.

Lillard will remain in Portland to nurse the injury that has kept him out since Feb. 12 and forced him to miss the All Star game. Initially, Dame was hoping to only miss three or four games.

The Blazers are 1-3 in the four full games Lillard has missed with the groin issue — most recently going down on Thursday in Indiana, 106-100.

CJ McCollum has tried to pick up some of the scoring burden without Dame. He’s jacking 25.6 field goals per game over the past five contests and scoring 29.4 points, up from his season averages of 19.4 field goal attempts and 22.0 points per contest. But it hasn’t been enough: Portland’s offensive rating has ranked 24th in Dame’s absence.

The Blazers clearly need their All-Star back soon, as the team is locked in an increasingly tight race for the no.8 seed in the Western Conference. Portland (26-34) trails the Memphis Grizzlies (28-31) — losers of five in a row in the wake of Jaren Jackson Jr.’s injury — by 2.5 games. The New Orleans Pelicans (26-33) sit just ahead of Portland heading into Saturday night’s action.

Before going down, Damian Lillard was putting up MVP-caliber numbers and willing the Blazers back into the playoff race. He’s averaging 29.5 points per game with 55.6 effective field goal percentage (both career bests) while leading the league at 37.o minutes a night.

Dame could possibly return when the Blazers host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.