Lillard To Miss Game Versus Memphis For Birth Of First Child

Lillard will fly back to Portland Tuesday night

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

The wait is finally over.

After being on baby watch for most of the last two weeks, Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard found out during Portland’s 107-103 victory versus the Pelicans Tuesday night in New Orleans that his girlfriend had gone into labor with their first child, Damian Jr.

While the team will fly to Memphis for the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday night versus the Grizzlies, Lillard will take a private jet back to Portland in hopes of arriving in time for the birth.

"I'm excited," Lillard told reporters after Tuesday’s win. "Been waiting."

Perhaps sensing that he would miss Wednesday's game in Memphis, turned it on in the second half of Tuesday's victory in New Orleans, scoring 20 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Trail Blazers to their seventh straight road win.

“He did what he always did…just took over," said Evan Turner. "What is most impressive is I don’t think he came out the whole second half and he pushed through. I’ve always said the best thing about him is his will. He is at a crazy, different level. He always steps up. It is unreal."

Now it'll be up to Lillard's teammates to step up in his absence. While the Grizzlies have the second-worst record in the NBA 20-54, they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-93 in their last contest. The Grizzlies also beat the Trail Blazers in Portland during the first month of the regular season.

"We know this is a big trip still but these two (wins) against teams right on our heals, one of them a division opponent, we know that these two are really, really big," said Lillard of their last two wins against the Thunder and Pelicans. "I'm just happy I'll be able to get on that plane knowing we got these first two (games)."

What's more, the Trail Blazers will also be without Maurice Harkless, who flew back to Portland with Lillard in order to undergo arthroscopy on Wednesday to remove a loose body in his left knee. The timetable for Harkless' return will be made following the procedure.

Either Shabazz Napier or Pat Connaughton are likely to start in Lillard's place versus the Grizzlies. Evan Turner started in place of Harkless in Tuesday night's victory and is expected to do the same Wednesday night in Memphis. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest and Rip City Radio 620 AM.

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