Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was interviewed on 750 AM The Game and 1080 The Fan this week following wins against the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here are partial transcripts of both interviews.
First, with Chad Doing of 750 AM The Game. The audio can be found here.
Did you go to the Drake concert?
My mom flew in. I had a quiet dinner with my mom and my wife. That's not my scene.
Getting the technical for arguing calls
As it turned out, I was wrong. I was still upset at the time. It was just the culmination of frustration, the way the half ended, it's an emotional game. I don't always show my frustration, but believe me, it's there, underneath the surface.
Dorell Wright hustle play
A lot of times the players coming off the bench, people tend to forget about those plays. Obviously LaMarcus [Aldridge] had a tremendous game and Nic [Batum] makes the shot, Damian [Lillard] gets a lot of credit, but when you have a guy like Dorell who plays 14 of 15 minutes a night and makes a play like that, that was sheer energy and effort, it's rewarded by him changing the shot, getting the rebound and Damian hits a three at the other end, it's a big momentum play. A lot of times, those plays need to be mentioned more often than they probably do.
Nicolas Batum three
It was good execution and [Kevin] Durant did fall asleep, he lost Nic on the cut. The fact that Nic was willing to take that shot, a lot of guys would just give the ball to L.A. It's a good thing it went in, the second-guessing would have been there if he missed. Why did he shoot the three? Why did he shoot it so quick? Why didn't he get it to L.A.? The second-guessing would have been abounding. The fact that he had the presence of mind to realize he was open, that he wants to take that shot, we all have confidence in him taking that shot. It was a good read on his part and it worked out well for us.
Chemistry building this season?
Two or three of my favorite teams -- one in Seattle, one in Milwaukee -- there were really clear role definitions and role acceptance. So far this year, the starters are clearly the starters. The four players I'm playing off the bench are clearly the rotation players. The other guys who are not getting in the games are the guys working hard in practice, they'll be ready when the opportunity ever comes. They've accepted their role. Winning helps a lot of that. But it's like: What comes first, the winning or the other part [accepting roles]? Right now everything is kind of snowballing on itself.
He has taken it to another level, and I'm not a fan of that expression. He's playing at a high level, he's ratcheted it up another notch. I don't know what LaMarcus has been like throughout his career in Portland. I know what he was like last year, and what he did for us last year as the leader. We have better players around him this year, he sees the possibilities of what we can accomplish as a team, and he's embraced that. His quality of play speaks for itself but his leadership, his ownership with the team, his interactions with his teammates, his fire on the court, has had a strong impact on our team.
Aldridge makes your job easier?
It makes my job a lot easier. Teammates have a lot of respect for L.A., what he's done and capable of doing, and how it helps them as players. It allows them to perform better when they're on the court. When you have that type of player, he's your best player and your leader, it makes things easier from the top on down.
Do you agree with Wesley Matthews that you guys have "dogs" on the team, not "cool players"?
More and more so after the Indiana and Oklahoma City game. When we had a winning streak going, opponents always get up to break a streak. ... When [Matthews] said that, we had already lost to Phoenix, I think we had established ourselves as [a team with] the makings of some possibilities. I think more and more, we're going to see more of that [from our opponents].
As far as being a team of dogs or a boring team. I guess I don't know our guys well enough. I don't think they're boring, I enjoy them. I like the way we are taking the challenge, we're going out on the court every night like we have something to prove and that's been a big part of our success.
Enjoying what you've done so far?
It's game by game. The NBA, you always have another game right around the corner. I enjoy the wins when we have it and then it's move on to the next game and prepare for that one. Winning is much more enjoyable, the mood around the facility, the mood at practice, it creates a nice atmosphere. Each one is a separate thing and you hvae to move on to the next game.
Did your previous experiences help you coming into this season after a 13-game losing streak last year?
I don't know if it's my past experiences, but I came into this season very optimistic about the possibilities. Even though we did lose 13 in a row, we were playing a lot of the young guys, we knew we weren't going to make the playoffs, LaMarcus was injured, Nic missed some games, I thought the 13-game losing streak was a little misleading. We were in the playoff hunt until the end of March for a team that wasn't expected to be there. I took a lot of positives from last season.
The changes we made to the roster this season, there was going to be an uptick. I didn't see 16-3 coming, but I thought we were going to be a good team, and we were going to compete for a playoff spot. We're still a young team, we continue to grow and get better.
Damian Lillard's development
I knew Damian's development this year was going to be equated to winning games and the efficiency of him being a point guard, where he's scoring and assisting and his defense. A lot of his improvement was not going to show up in the stat sheet besides the win column and our defense. Both of those factors have turned out to be a positive and Damian has a lot to do with that.
What have you done to develop LaMarcus Aldridge's game?
I don't know if I've done a lot. LaMarcus was a great player, an All-Star before I got here. He's a diligent worker on his game over the summer, he takes care of his body, he was an underrated player before I got here. He should have made the All-Star team the year before he actually made it. I don't know if I've done a lot to help LaMarcus, he's done a lot on his own. We've got a lot of good players, that makes his job a little bit easier. What you saw last night [against Oklahoma City] and in Golden State, a young man who is coming into his own as a player and as a leader. One of the best players in the NBA.
It's helped the team more than anything. It's challenging from my standpoint to manage a rotation. Last year I tried to keep two of our four starters on the court at all times. This year, you'll see four bench players and a starter in the game. It's really helped get the minutes down for all four of those guys, Damian, Wes, Nic and LaMarcus.
I think it's just a sign of a good team. You look at a team like San Antonio right now, the minutes that their starters are playing versus their bench players, you need that depth for an 82-game season. I thought our four guys last year managed their minutes very well, and were very productive, but it did take a toll on them.
Keeping focused with wins
There are a few messages I want to keep with our team. Stay humble and hungry and go out every night with something to prove. Even though we've had a good start, we haven't done anything, we haven't guaranteed ourselves a playoff spot, we haven't accomplished anything other than getting off to a good start. We need to play with that edge and I think we will. Right now, we don't have a player on our roster who played in the playoffs last year. We need to keep that edge, stay to the course and never get complacent. It's human nature, you have some success, you don't want to let your guard down. I think our approach, the players and coaches, it's the right thing to do, we come prepared every night.
iPads on the bench, do you use technology?
We use technology just like every other team. There's so much technology out there that every team has access to. The video, the ease of what you can do with video, the digital age, you can make edits for the individual players and the team. I'm a big believer in using video as a learning tool, for players and the team. Because of technology we're able to do it quicker and better than in the past.
I believe in the analytics. There's good information out there. We have a great analytics staff that provides me with information going into the season and what we want to do with our team, league-wide and with our team. Just like any profession, there's so much technology out there, you just have to be diligent in how you use it and what you use it for.
Was there a game this season where you thought "This team is for real"?
I don't know if there was a game. We've done some good things. When we gave up 40 points at Brooklyn then held them under 100, that was impressive. Down 21 against Chicago, a team that doesn't necessarily give up leads, that was impressive. The game at Golden State, when we showed a lot of grit after losing Mo [Williams] and Wes to ejections. The Indiana and Oklahoma games speak for themselves. When you look back in the summer at certain games, but we've had some games that have stood out, and those have been some of them.
Thought about how CJ McCollum fits in?
Not at this point. I'm worried about the next game, Utah. I don't know when CJ is going to come back. When he does, that's great. You need that talent and depth to get you through an 82-game season. Right now, my focus is on Utah and then Saturday we've got Dallas. I try not to look too far in the future, when CJ gets back, we'll figure it out.
What do officials do to get you upset?
I have a lot of respect for the referees. The year I was out of coaching, I did some work for the NBA and the referees and I know what they go through and how difficult their job is. I probably give the referees much more leeway than the casual fan. There are some times, we're all doing our jobs, sometimes people in the heat of battle, if something is said, I try to let it go. I don't know if there's something [specific] that upsets me during a game.
As it turns out, I got a technical [against the Thunder] on a call they actually got right. I think it's important as a coach that you stick up for your players and team, and let them know I have their back. I do know the NBA referees are the best in the world, I know what they do and what they go through, and I understand their profession. It's kind of a long-winded answer for a mixed message.
You're good at avoiding fines and buttering up the officials for the next game
Oh, so you think they're listening to this interview?
How often do people tell you that you look like Peyton Manning?
I get it more and more. I take it as a compliment because Peyton is almost 20 years younger than me. Any time someone says I look like someone 20 years younger than me, I'll take it. [It happens about] once a week.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter