Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale reacted to Portland's 112-105 Game 2 over Houston.
Aldridge finished with a game-high 43 points (on 18-for-28 shooting), eight rebounds and three blocks in 36 minutes.
Here's a transcript of their podium comments.
I came into the game just trying to feel it out and see what they were going to try to do, because everybody had made so much chaos over how they were going to guard me and things like that. I just went into the game trying to feel it out and ended up finding my rhythm. I thought coach did a really great job of just moving me around early. They were trying to double me a little bit earlier, so I thought coach moving me around the floor was great.
So you did notice they were trying different things, but nothing was working?
They did. I made tough shots. I thought they played great "D." I don't think too much was easy tonight. I just got in that rhythm and I just started making shots, but I thought they definitely changed it up on me.
With the statistics you've put up in these first two games, you've drawn comparisons to [LeBron James], [Michael Jordan], [Shaquille O'Neal], with just the sheer numbers. Does that mean anything to you, to be mentioned with those elite players?
Of course. It's a honor, because those are definitely big-time guys, big-time names, Hall of Famers, so to even be in the same breath as those guys is an honor for me.
Two questions. One, have you ever been in a zone like this in two games? And two, you've waited a long time to have some moments like this. What does that mean to you?
To the first question, I have. Can't remember, but remember at the All Star Break game, I think I had 40 before the All Star Break and then I came back and had 40 and I was the first guy to do it since [Clyde Drexler]. I think something like that, a few years ago. I think that was similar, but definitely not on this type of stage in this moment.
I think this is definitely the best I've felt going into a game and I think this team, in general, just believes in me so much, and they ride the waves so well. When I'm going, 1 through 15, they're all cheering for me; they're all telling me to shoot. If I pass up a shot, they're all mad at me, so I think having 15 guys have your back like that -- that's great.
Any thoughts on having such another big game on your first-born's birthday?
My son watched the game tonight. He texted me and said I looked like Spiderman when I had dunked the ball, so he had fun watching the game and it was just fun for me.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts
Needless to say, to get a second win here is quite an accomplishment. I liked our demeanor. We withstood some of their blows and kept fighting. Told the team it's something to be proud of, but we've got a tough game on Friday, so it's just on to the next one.
You had a stretch there in the fourth where [LaMarcus Aldridge] is sitting down and the role players really stepped up and helped blow that game open. How important were they in this game?
I thought Dorell Wright coming off the bench really made a difference. They made a run and we had a lead, and they tied it up. He made a lot of big plays, particularly making some shots, but he had some blocks, he got some rebounds; Mo Williams during that stretch as well.
We need our bench to play well. It doesn't always mean scoring; I thought our bench played well in Game 1, but didn't necessarily score. It's good to get some points off the bench, but we'll take them wherever we can.
Have you seen [Aldridge] play as well as this in these last couple of games?
No. I've seen him have a fantastic season, there's no question, but these two games here is as well as I've seen him play. He's very determined; he's focused; he's leading the team, not only with his play, but with the way he's handling himself in the timeouts, in the locker room.
[Dwight Howard] got off to a fast start, and you guys were able to weather that storm. Could you talk about the ability of the team to get through that and play through it?
He got off to such a good start. We wanted to play him straight. I think we did a better job, as the game went on, of mixing up our coverages. I thought [Robin Lopez] and [Aldridge] both improved their man-to-man defense -- just their individual defense. I thought the rest of the team really paid attention to him, and the fact that he had 25 in the first half and finished with 32 -- we wanted to give him a lot more attention in the second half.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale
Defending LaMarcus Aldridge
We took him out of the post for the most part. It was pick-and-pop and we tried doing some different things. We tried running at him a couple of times. He just shot it in the middle of our run at him, so we had problems there. We never really got enough stops in a row to get going. They ended up shooting 47%.
The only time we ever got some flow, some stops, we were able to push it and get going. [Dwight Howard] had a great start; really got us off to a good start, but we weren't able to sustain any kind of offensive push.
[Aldridge], I think, going into the fourth quarter, was 13-15 from mid-range -- a lot of shots with guys with a hand in his face. Obviously, you couldn't do different things -- throw doubles or whatever -- with their shooting. To a certain point, do you just have to tip your cap and just say "If he's going to hit those shots, so be it?"
Well, he made some tough shots. So far, he's had a hell of a series, needless to say. We had some stops; they got a few offensive rebounds, especially late, and he had a big offensive rebound. It seemed like we'd get a good look, not make it, and they'd make a couple of tough threes over us late in the shot clock. Right now, we're not in a great rhythm as a team, and we'd better get there. But, as I told the guys, it's the first team to four, not the first team to two, so we're just going to have to go up there and grind out a win.
You've seen a lot of playoff games played in a lot of playoff games, and I realize this is just two games, but can you put into perspective what [Aldridge] is doing?
We tried changing it up tonight. That first game, he just got in the paint and wore us out. Tonight, he was picking and popping and moving and we were having a hard time running people at him because he was on the perimeter most of the time. We were trying to get the ball out of his hands as much as we could, but a lot of the stuff he did was just pick-and-pop; opened up a side, he ran, made some tough jump shots. He made a couple when our guys didn't get their hands up. You got to give him credit.
He made some tough shots and Wright made a really tough three right in front of our bench. Mo Williams made a couple late. We got to get those stops; we got to get ourselves going. We were, what, 3-16 from the three-point line. We had some clean looks that we didn't make, but we didn't get enough clean looks from the three-point line.
I know it's tough to gauge right after a game has ended, but do you feel like the belief is there from the team that they can overcome this?
There better be.
-- Sagar Trika | @BlazersBySagar