Ed. Note: Hey guys, please welcome Sagar Trika to Blazersedge. Sagar is a high school student in Beaverton who has been writing about the Blazers for two years now over at Blazers World. He is going to be helping out our site here and there in various ways.
His first task: digging through the post-game interviews to pull out some of the best quotes. The goal here is to help us be as thorough as possible, leaving no post-game stone unturned. Here's what Sagar found from Portland's 111-99 victory over Utah on Friday. Enjoy. -- Ben
Wesley Matthews: CSNNW.com video link here
Reporter: When [Lillard] starts hitting shots like that, you feel that next to him?
Matthews: I knew it was a matter of time. You can see that as soon as he's ready to release, I'm already putting my hands up. I know it's good. The last one he shot, I was laughing. I was already walking back because I knew it was going in. He's a real-life microwave.
Reporter: Can you talk about the importance of Sunday's game against the Warriors?
Matthews: It's the biggest game of the year for us. It's a deciding game. We're going to play it as so. It's a playoff game, and that's going to be our approach.
LaMarcus Aldridge: CSNNW.com video link here
Aldridge: It was just trying to keep going in the right direction going into the playoffs. You never want to come into somebody's house and just blow them out. They're young, they're still trying to get better, they have good guys. They played hard, but we just ended up playing better defense down the stretch.
Reporter: How bad do you want that home court advantage in that first round?
Aldridge: You always want home court, so if we can get it, we definitely want it. Houston lost tonight, so that definitely helps our chances. We have two more left, so we just got to take care of business.
Reporter: Of all the games you played here, this is the first the Blazers have swept a season series against Utah. Do you take any satisfaction from that?
Aldridge: It's definitely a compliment to our focus this year. I thought guys understood the value of every game this year, as far as above .500 and below .500 teams. I think that's definitely a compliment to our focus. They're in a little bit of a rebuilding year, so it's not too high of an honor. They have good guys and they're getting better every year.
Damian Lillard: CSNNW.com video link here
Lillard: When I was coming off the pick-and-rolls, [Robin Lopez] was rolling, and he was wide open. When I was in ball-screens with [Aldridge], he was wide open. He got a lot of great looks. That was just the right play to make. Those guys knocked down shots. Utah just countered it. They made a lot of tough shots, also. On their home floor, we knew what type of game it was going to be, so that's what type of game it was. Late down the stretch, I just got a little more aggressive and started looking for some shots.
Reporter: The end of this season is probably different than the end of last season.
Lillard: It was simple - last season, we lost 13 in a row to finish the season. This year, we got things going back in the right direction after having a little bit of a drop-off. I think that says a lot about how we've grown as a team and who we are this year compared to last year.
Terry Stotts: CSNNW.com video link here
Stotts: We were disappointed with our defense in the first quarter, but I thought we really turned around in the second and third quarter defensively. I thought that's how we need to continue to play. This place is always a tough place to play. Utah plays hard every time, so it was a quality win for us.
Reporter: What led [Lillard] to that big fourth quarter?
Stotts: You'd have to ask him. He just hit the three threes. He just kind of felt it. Those threes really turned the momentum of the game. I don't think [Aldridge] was in the game. We had our shooting lineup in, and [Lillard] just took it upon himself to make something happen.
Reporter: Talk about your bench, coach.
Stotts: Bench has been solid. [Thomas Robinson], [Dorell Wright] had good minutes. [Will Barton], [Mo Williams]. We're kind of sticking with that rotation and I thought they all had quality minutes and did the things that we needed them to do.
Reporter: First time the Blazers have swept a season series from Utah. Do you take satisfaction with that?
Stotts: It's always good to sweep a series. Jazz are rebuilding and teams are in different modes right now. Over the years, Utah's had great teams and Portland's had great teams. Sweeping them this year doesn't have much to do with years past.
Reporter: How do you like your team going into the playoffs? Where do you guys feel like you sit right now?
Stotts: I like our team. I think we're coming together at the right time. We've won seven out of eight. Defensively, we've been locked in. I think our offense is starting to come around again, like it was earlier. I think we're all looking forward to the playoffs, and once you're in the playoffs, anything can happen.
Reporter: In [Lillard], you got a guy who was Rookie of the Year last, is an All-Star this year. What about leadership-wise? How do you like his game and his contributions to the team?
Stotts: I think he's really grown, as far as leader on the court. Last year, he just willed himself through the season - it was learning on the job. I think this year, he's much more comfortable with his team, with the NBA, and I think you see his leadership abilities on the court, particularly.
Reporter: Can you describe the importance of the game on Sunday now?
Stotts: We want to move up, whether we can catch Houston or not. We win the game on Sunday, we secure the fifth spot. I think the way we view it, it's not necessarily looking at certain matchups. We just want to accumulate wins and we want to have the best seeding possible.
Trey Burke: NBA.com video link here
Reporter: Tonight was the first time you five young guys were able to start together, which eventually leads to a loss. Do you feel like things went well?
Burke: Absolutely. I think we fought for 48 minutes. I think we made some mistakes right before half, which caused us to be behind in the end. Obviously, [Lillard] and his shots came at the right time.
Reporter: Was that the difference in the fourth quarter? It was tied after three, and then [Lillard] got hot.
Burke: I think he was one of the reasons. Obviously, he made two or three threes at the right moment. We knew he was going to be more aggressive in the second half. I think overall, their whole team did a good job continuing to execute. We made some mental errors that we couldn't afford to make.
Reporter: What were some of those little things? It feels like you guys are right there a lot of times, but little things get in the way. What are some of those little things?
Burke: Small turnovers, not communicating on weak side, rotating out to Aldridge, rotating out to [Matthews]. We can go any direction as to why we lost tonight. Main reason - we just didn't execute down the stretch.
Reporter: You guys didn't seem like a young group that hadn't started before. You guys looked very comfortable out there. What was the key to that?
Burke: Just because we've all played together. Being in the starting lineup - we were kind of used to it because we played with them all the time. That lineup is usually out there towards the end of games. We went out there confident and I think we played well together.
-- Sagar Trika | Twitter