The Portland Trail Blazers held on to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 105-101 on Monday night, with some much needed help from Gerald Henderson (19 points off the bench). His season-high performance-- paired with a timely stop by CJ McCollum in the fourth quarter-- was imperative to the team's success. CSNNW brings us the players' perspective from inside the locker room.
What does it mean to you to see Gerald have a big night like he did?
It was great to see. With him coming off surgery this past summer and being in the rotation and having one of those breakout games like tonight – especially in a game where we needed it – it was huge. I was happy to see that. He works hard, so I think it was only a matter of time for him to have a game like tonight.
What’s his attitude been like throughout this season?
He’s been the same. If he plays or doesn’t play, he comes in the next day and his demeanor doesn’t change. If he shoots well or doesn’t shoot well, his demeanor doesn’t change. I think everybody in this locker room is excited to see it just because we’ve seen so many guys step up in different games, which shows that, down the line, when we grow and kind of put this thing together a little bit more—we see what guys can do now, so we see how they can pay off later.
On such a young team, what’s it mean to have his experience out there?
It’s huge; especially with him coming off the bench. We got experience coming off the bench in him. He knows what spots he wants to get to to score the ball, and he’s been in that role before, so he can come in and give us that punch. He knows situations, he understands the game, so with him coming in it allows us to maybe not have a drop-off, whereas if we bring somebody with no experience, they might have to be taught or they might need more time.
Coach was saying that you’ve always stayed ready, whether he calls your number or not. How challenging is that from night to night?
That’s not something I’m used to, but being ready is something I’m always used to. Things have just been different, but it’s my job to go out there when I’m chosen to just play my game and do my job.
Did you know you tied your career-high with the threes?
They were talking about it. I was thinking maybe I had four once before, but definitely not.
How are you feeling about this trip coming up?
I feel good. I think we’re at a good spot. We got some tough games against some good teams. I feel good about where we’re at though. It’s good to get a win before we leave, but [we] got to get on the road and just take care of business game by game.
What did you like about the way you guys closed this one tonight in the fourth?
I think coming down the stretch, we didn’t play great defense coming down the stretch, but I think when we needed it, CJ made a big stop. Kind of stopped the bleeding a little bit in a situation where if they hit a shot, then they’re right there. But CJ made a big stop, we made free throws, and, you know, just sealed the game.
Can you take us through the swat strip on Jrue Holiday at the end?
He had me beat. I thought he was going to go to the hole. He pump faked and he side dribbled and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s just going to try to shoot it in my face,’ so I went for the steal and got a hand on the ball and I deflected it on the way up. I think he thought he was going to get fouled, but… not today.
Did you know when they came out of that what play they were going to run? It seemed like you knew.
Nah, I think it was like a scramble. I wasn’t guarding Holiday, I was guarding Gordon. He had went through the middle and closed the door.
Nah, I just… I mean, he’s a good 3-point shooter, so I figured I’d just be ready to go, and if you try to go around the elevators it’s over. You know, they’re going to close it, so just try to get through there with him and then, once he caught it, just try to pressure him and then end up getting caught on Holiday on the switch.
Particularly tonight, how were you able to exploit that matchup and find open space?
I think the biggest thing is pre-game just kind of seeing tendencies in how they’re going to play; if they’re going to tag the roller, if they’re going to have a tight weak side, and then if they do that just knowing where the shooters are.
You had success against them in the opener. Is there something that you do defensively that you kind of saw?
I think we just… everything was a little in rhythm. I think the guards hit the window in rhythm and then guys hit shots, of course, too. That helps. A lot of my assists are to the 3-point line, so if guys are shooting well, that’s where you get the numbers.
What was different for you guys in the fourth quarter, you know, going down the stretch even when they kind of made their run?
I think offensively we executed very well. Instead of settling for tough jumpers, Dame attacked the basket, got to the free throw line, CJ got to the free throw line. We were really aggressive attacking the basket down the stretch.
That defensive play by CJ…
Oh, it was huge, man. It was probably our only stop of the fourth quarter, but it was a timely one. Quick hands, man.
How are you feeling with, I mean, what’s the [indiscernible] of you think the team winning on the road?
Feeling good, man. You know, it’s an improvement, but we have a lot of room to grow. Win or lose, we have to keep improving. I know the coaches, defensively, they know how much better we can be. If we could put four quarters together defensively, I think that would be a step forward.
Is there a specific area, defensively, you guys want to improve on?
Yeah, fourth quarter. Every night it seems to be something a little different. They mentioned against the Knicks it was transition, tonight it was that pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter, you know, not fouling some nights, and sending guys to the line a lot. So it’s just a overall ability to be solid and stick to the game plan and execute it.