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Damian Lillard Identifies Defense And Consistency As Issues For Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers dropped to 4-and-4 with a loss to the Denver Nuggets on the road. Point guard Damian Lillard discusses what went wrong.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard discussed the Trail Blazers' shortcomings at length with the media after Monday's 108-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and why he is not frustrated. Video via CSNNW:


Right now we just not playing defense with enough urgency. I think we doing a better job of keeping the ball going in the direction that we have on our scouting reports, but sometimes, as guards, we got to do a better job pursuing. Sometimes the bigs have to give us stunt, give us more time to get back up to our man. Other times it’s the pick-and-roll coverage being good enough and then they throw it to the weak side and the weak side isn’t where the weak side should be. Teams are hurting us on it right now, so I think it just comes down to us tightening up. We got to tighten up and once again understand that we have to do those things if we want to give ourselves a chance to win games.

Is that discouraging? Is that part of the learning process? How would you—

I mean, it’s not discouraging because it’s so early, you know what I mean? We 4-and-4 now. It’s just, you don’t want to keep having the same thing happen over and over again and say, ‘Oh, we got to grow, we got to’—you know, you don’t want it to become an excuse. You want to understand that we do have to grow and we do have to just keep playing and we do need to keep getting better, but we professionals and, as a team, we need to do better of—playing with urgency and doing the things that give us a chance to win.

On the offensive end, you had your own way. Was tonight, the only thing that slowed you down was that you had to sit out the first few minutes of the fourth quarter?

I just played the game. Meyers [Leonard] was making shots early, so that loosened up the pick-and-roll coverages. We came out, we ran the floor well offensively. A lot of the credit for that goes to what we did defensively to start the game. They scored points, we went back and forth, but we still came up with stops in the second quarter and was able to get out and get in rhythm in the second half, we just didn’t play well enough defensively.

What’s your frustration level at?

I’m not really frustrated. I mean, as a competitor, after you lose a game, you sit there and think about everything you could have did better and what we could have did better as a team, and you’re not happy with it, but I’m happy with where we are as a team.



How so?

Just, like I said, we’re 4-and-4 and each game we’ve lost—it’s not like, ‘Why are we losing?’ It’s obvious to us and it should be obvious to people watching that understand the game, why we losing. So I don’t think we should be frustrated at all.

Are you concerned about your play in the fourth quarter? I know it’s not as drastic as last night, but you had, tonight, a winnable game that…

We just got to play better down the stretch. It all comes back to us doing those things consistently. We don’t have the luxury of sometimes doing the things we need to do defensively—having that urgency defensively and on offense. We just got to better about doing that consistently. It can’t be a drop off with this team.