Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts and All-Star guard and Damian Lillard reacted to a 122-120 overtime victory in Game 1 over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Here's Timmay's instant recap. Here's Dave's analysis. Here's post-game reaction from All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Here's a transcript of their podium comments.
Lillard finished with 31 points (on 9-for-19 shooting), nine rebounds and five assists and helped close the door in overtime after LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out.
It was a great game. I was really proud of the way we competed. We were kind of down and out, at least three times. Once in the first half, once in regulation and once in overtime. We stayed together, kept competing. We had guys make big plays. Fought through some adversity and foul trouble, it's good to get a win. This is just Game 1. We know we still have our work cut out for us.
It was a Damian Lillard performance. Damian rises to the occasion, for all those people who wanted to know if he was ready for the playoffs, I think we answered that question, we don't have to answer that any more. He made big plays, the three was big, getting to the rim was big, making free throws. It was a big time performance.
I don't know why anyone would question if he was ready for this. The guy is an All-Star, a multiple All-Star, probably an All-Pro. He's been ready for this moment too. We've worked 82 games to get to this point. We expect this from each other.
There were a few. Not really [one]. When we fell down whatever it was in the first half, and we fought back to tie it up, that was a turning point. Obviously when we fouled Dwight and he missed his free throws, that was a turning point. They came out and made the first six points of overtime and then we tied it up, that was a turning point. The game had a lot of ebb and flow to it.
Importance of win
We had to win at least one here, we've done that. We're not by any means satisfied, but we knew we had to win at least one here. We put ourselves in a position to win. We were able to eke it out. After tonight this one is behind us and we have to move on.
They have to be in the bonus, first of all. When Dwight was scoring, they weren't in the bonus yet. As soon as they were in the bonus we had to extend the game. Whether he made them or missed them, if he missed one or two that would be great. But it just prolonged the game for us, no matter what he did. It gave us more opportunities. That was the thing. Thankfully, he made the first two and missed the next four and that got us back into it.
LaMarcus Aldridge's huge night
We rode him. He was very efficient on his post-ups. When they played their small lineups, he took advantage of the match-ups that he had. He pulled the three-point shots. He's been hiding that all season. We saved that for the playoffs, and I'm glad he pulled it out for us. His two threes were big for us. The one in overtime, his second three, was a tough one. It was a good thing it went in.
Defense on James Harden
On the whole it was good. I thought [Wesley Matthews] and Nic [Batum] did a good job. We lost him in transition a few times. I didn't even look at his line yet, I'm getting old, I can't see without my glasses. On the whole, Wes and Nic did a good job. He only had one three in the first half. Played him without fouling in the first half. To hold him to 27 in an overtime game when the ball is in his hands a lot, I thought we did a pretty good job with it.
Going after James Harden
We wanted to make him work at both ends. At his defensive end. There's no question that making him expend some energy at the defensive end, they moved him around on different players. They started him on Wes, moved him around a little bit, I thought we made him work.
Flagrant fouls, hard fouls
It's playoff basketball. A lot of emotion. Emotions running high. A great playoff atmosphere. The crowd was into it, both teams were into it. That's what you expect with playoff basketball.
It was exciting. Our team had some adversity. We competed really hard. They played a great game, you can't take anything away from Houston. It came down to making free throws and getting stops, and we were able to get one more.
No Houston free throws in first half
We were the aggressor in the first half. We played really aggressively defensively. They didn't shoot free throws. We knew that going into the second half that it wasn't going to be the same. The referees probably would have seen they hadn't shot any free throws. It changed. We came out in the second half, they got some calls, and that's what we expected.
Our whole thing is keep playing. Stay together and keep playing. They made their run, we made our run, and we were able to pull it out.
Feel like a seasoned playoff veteran?
I can't consider myself a seasoned playoff vet. There's so many guys that have played in 100 or 200 playoff games, i I think I heard earlier that Tim Duncan played in 200+ playoff games. That's my first one. I'm happy we were able to win it.
Seen LaMarcus Aldridge like that before?
I've seen a little bit of that. As far as the passion. I don't think I've ever seen him like that, as far as how animated he was about calls, guys couldn't stop him, I saw how bad he wanted to win the game. When you've got your best player and your leader, playing like that, it fires you up. When he went out of the game, we had to own up to that. We had to have L.A.'s back and come through for him. He put forth a great effort and carried us for a majority of the game. I think our team found a way to get it done after he fouled out, for him.
Environment, playoff game
The crowd was into it. It was really loud. Every time a call went in our favor, they reacted to it. Every time a call went in their favor, they were cheering. It was kind of crazy. It seemed like the game took forever with the timeouts, with it being a TV game and everything. I had a ball. It was a fun first game for me, but it's only one game.
Feel like a regular game?
To start, it was different. The energy was really a lot of energy. With the fans, how loud it was, every time someone scored, yelling, booing. After awhile it calmed down and felt like a regular game.
We've been talking about it. Our whole prep for this series was that there's going to be ups and downs. When there's downs, we have to stick together and keep fighting. If there's a call we felt like we against our favor, just keep fighting. Don't complain, keep fighting. We were able to do that. When we were down 11, we still had confidence. L.A. was hot. Nico made a few good plays, it was going back and forth. They had a good lead, it was going back and forth. We kept saying in the huddle 'stay together,' and we kept fighting our way back into the game.
He missed a few free throws and we saw that as an opportunity to take advantage of. If he misses four free throws, two possessions, we can go down and score six or seven points in two possessions. We took advantage of the missed free throws. Got ourselves back into the game. It was overall a great effort for our team.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter