Transcript: Blazers Coach Terry Stotts Interviewed On Courtside

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts discusses his team's preseason and his upcoming preparations in an interview.

Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts joined Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey for an interview on Blazers Courtside on Monday.

Here's a transcript. Video should be available on Blazers.com at this link in the near future.

Preseason win over Utah Jazz

"I liked the way we came out in both halves, first and the second half. The starters did a nice job of playing well at both ends of the court. I thought the third quarter, we started Mo Williams at the beginning of the second half, just to give him and Damian [Lillard] a little more time together, and that group built a nice 18-point lead. We got a little sloppy with that. We had four turnovers in a row.

"It was a solid win, our defense is going in the right direction. Offensively, I'm anxious to see how it's going to look when we get all of our players on the court but that was comforting. We looked like a team that knew what it was doing on the offensive end, we executed very well, not only the sets that we had but out of timeouts, our execution was very good. The biggest concern right now is still the turnovers. The turnovers have been a problem the first three games."

Damian Lillard defense against Utah

"You're right, he's taken to heart, not only what we need to do as a team but what he needs to do as an individual basketball player. His defense has certainly improved, the adjustments we've made to our pick-and-roll defense has helped everybody. He has really bought in.

"He took a lot of criticism over the summer about defense, I think everybody needs to -- they can't just let a Rookie of the Year go, they need to find fault. He took it to heart, came in this season, you guys know Damian, how committed he is, how good he wants to be. His defense is improving and our team defense is improving and that's very encouraging for everybody."

Injured players

"Who knows [if there are any new ones], I haven't checked my email yet.

"Nic [Batum], he passed the first stage of the [concussion] protocol which was very encouraging. He had headaches, those have dissipated or gone away, he's on to the next phase, whatever that is. I don't know if he's going on this road trip or not but hopefully in the next few days he'll be back on the court. That's out of my hands.

"Meyers Leonard did not practice today. He's limited in what he can do because of the foot. I know he wants to get on the court and play but it's better to be prudent and not push that.

"Joel Freeland practiced today, his hand was just sore.

"Dorell [Wright] is encouraging. He went through practice today, didn't sit out anything, he's looking to play, if not against Utah then maybe against the Clippers.

"Earl Watson -- he did half of the practice, he did contact practice, 5-on-5, in the halfcourt. I'm optimistic he'll be on the court one of these next three games but I'm not sure when that's going to be"

Better bench

"That gives you a lot of ability to question my decisions during the season.

"It is comforting to have the point guard position really nailed down between those three guys [Lillard, Williams and Watson]. Having the versatility between two and three, Will [Barton] and Allen [Crabbe] have really played well in the minutes they've gotten. There's only a certain amount of minutes that are available. They are both being very competitive.

"I know what Dorell can do. He's probably better defensively than people realize. He's known as a three-point shooter but with his length and his savvy and his first four years were in Miami, so he definitely has a defensive foundation. We'll be able to absorb when and if injuries do come, we'll have flexibility how we can approach it from there."

Injuries around the league

"I had a good discussion with [Blazers GM] Neil [Olshey] earlier today before practice. It's a balancing act between ramping it up for the start of the season, get guys in game shape and game condition, putting in the plays you need to put in at both ends of the floor, establish the mentality which for us is establishing more of a toughness and a defensive mentality, but you don't want to overuse your guys. Keep in mind, the goal is October 30, not October 15.

"Getting the conditioning, getting the reps in without overusing the players and being mindful of injuries, but at the same time you've got to get on the court, play 5-on-5, get up and down. Sometimes injuries happen unfortunately. We're very cognizant of what could happen but at the same time we've got to get things done."

Thomas Robinson

"The one thing I think I've seen more than anything else is a growth and improvement since Summer League. For him to come into our system, he was in Sacramento for most of the season, goes to Houston and doesn't necessarily get a lot of time, then he comes here. He had to figure out how we want to play, what we want to do at both ends of the floor. He's very receptive to all the coaching. He wants to make up for his rookie year, he's very coachable. That to me has been the most impressive thing so far.

"He has energy, he has one of those things you can't teach, he has instincts for the ball, pursuing the ball on rebounds, he has ability to defend out on the floor, he has athleticism, he can run the floor. For him, taking the game and not trying to do too much. He's going to get his opportunities and he wants to make the most of them. For him, it's just the continual growth and the process he's going to go through, and that takes time for a young player."

Goals this week

"Keep going in the right direction. Defense is going to be the priority going forward. Now that we have a little bit of preparation, we can prepare for Utah, prepare for the Clippers, and even Sacramento. There will be a little more game preparation, although it is much more about us and where we're going than playing the Jazz, playing the Clippers. There's thing we need to continue to build on. Over the next two weeks, once these two weeks are over, the season starts, your practice time is [spent] more adjusting and fine-tuning, so I want to keep us going in the right direction. Three games in five nights, I don't want to take a step backwards."

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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