Down 110-112 to the New York Knicks with a free throw to shoot and 2.2 seconds on the game clock, Damian Lillard nearly pulled a miracle out of his hat. He intentionally missed the free throw, got the rebound in the fray, and launched a twisting 3-pointer before the backboard lit up. The shot fell just short (videos here), but hung in the air for what seemed an eternity to onlookers. CSNNW brings us player reactions from both locker rooms.
In the fourth quarter, we just didn’t defend really well. They got some looks at the rim, we just didn’t defend well enough.
Did you think that last shot was going in?
Yeah, it felt good. It looked good. It’s always tough when you don’t really have an idea how much time is on the clock, but I put it up there, it had a chance, and from where I was standing I thought it was going in. You know, we could have done a lot of things better to not even be in that position.
Have you ever had a situation like that before where you had to miss and then hope that—
Not where the game was basically over. We didn’t have any timeouts and it wasn’t like we could foul them and then advance the ball, so I had to miss. I tried to hit it off back-rim and let it go in the air so guys could go after it. We got the perfect bounce, you know, it went straight to the 3-point line and from there it was a footrace and I knew that I didn’t have much time.
How nervous were you watching that last 3-pointer go up?
That was the longest one-point-something or 2.2 seconds I’ve ever been a part of. I don’t know how it ended up back in his hands. That was the wrong person’s hands to end up in.
We hope so. I thought the way we played tonight—the faster pace, getting up and down the court, playing quicker, playing faster—helped us out a lot. And also helped playing against a team who plays like that as well.
[On Porzingis’ off-night]
I mean, it comes down to experience. I really don’t kind of know exactly what to tell him other than there are going to be nights like this and there’s no pressure on him to try to go out there and try to do something that he might not have it that night. Tonight it just wasn’t his night. Other guys stepped up. He understands that. This game is over with and we’ll move onto the next one.
We saw you talking with him there in the fourth quarter. What kind of things can you say to him or any of the other guys when you’re in the heat of the moment like that?
One thing about him, he doesn’t lack any kind of confidence, you know, so for me it was just more of just talking about things that happened in the game. When I see how guys are guarding him, when he get the ball up top, when he get the ball in the post. Just figuring out ways how we can play better and take advantage of some of the mismatches that’s going to be out there, but, most importantly, it was just a matter of trying to get him going, get him an easy shot but tonight… it just wasn’t his night tonight, and he understands that.
I think defensively, I think we came with a great energy and reaction to the first quarter on that end of the floor, and I think that energy flows to the other end of the floor—it’s contagious.
You were 5-7 tonight, 4-4 from the line, you’re offensive game really strong. How did you get your looks out there?
My teammates did a good job of putting me in good situations. I got some nice step-up pick-and-rolls, guys found me and I was able to make plays.
We asked this question to Derrick [Williams] as well, but for you, when you’re watching Dame get that rebound and take that shot, you’ve seen him make that shot so many times—what’s going through your mind in that moment when this team desperately wants to get this win?
I definitely did have a little flashback there when Dame caught the ball, you know, he was going to turn around and pull that. Obviously, I’m pleased for my team that it didn’t go in. I’ve been on the receiving end of that in New Orleans his rookie year, when he hit that three to win the game, so I’m glad it turned out differently this time.
And just for you personally, of course you get the win tonight—that’s the most important thing—but at the same time, you got such a nice reception coming back here. What was it like just being here, but then also, of course, getting the win too?
I kind of feel like it’s the best of both worlds. That’s a special thing when you make a connection like that with the fanbase. I’m grateful for all the support I’ve received—even now that I’m on a different team. That doesn’t happen a lot.