After a tough loss in Miami, the Blazers were acutely aware of what went wrong. Defense and turnovers were their biggest problems. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Terry Stotts, and Mason Plumlee address these issues in today's post-game interviews, courtesy of CSNNW:
This is kind of another chapter in the same story. Do you view it that way?
Yeah. I mean, we played well offensively, we had a lot of turnovers. A lot of times when we turn the ball over we don’t win the game, and in the second half we also didn’t defend well enough. They made some tough shots. They had some nice plays offensively in the second half, but we turned the ball over too much and we didn’t get enough stops.
[Indiscernible] defense, particularly [Hassan] Whiteside and [Chris] Bosh? It seemed like they were making it difficult for you guys.
Well, I mean, Chris Bosh is a All-Star every year in this league, and every time I’ve played against him in my career he’s shown why. Tonight he got it going. I thought Ed [Davis] did a really good job defending him, but it goes back to our team defense. A couple times Ed guards him, gets him underneath the rim, and he has a nice finish on the weak side, and we don’t have anybody there to help, whereas when we’re on offense and we get to the other side of the rim there’s someone there every time. So we got to be better about things like that and, obviously, with a guy at that level, we got to understand that it’s got to be a group effort. You can’t leave a guy on the island.
With Whiteside, we knew that he was going to take up a lot of space in the paint, we knew he was going to block shots, but his size really helped him out tonight.
Chief [Al-Farouq Aminu] had it going in the first half, but he didn’t attempt a shot in the second half. Did they do something different, or what was your view of that?
I think a team like them, they adjust. In the first half he hit a lot of threes—a lot of them shots was threes—and in the second half, I can remember a few times him catching it and them running him off the line, and him making the next play. A lot of times it was the right play. So I think part of it was them adjusting and him just making the next play instead of saying, you know, ‘I was hot in the first half. I’m going to search for my shot.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. We probably needed to do a better job of getting him more shots. If a guy is that hot in the first half, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have a single attempt in the second.
I just wanted to be clear about your foot. You said that it had pain before. Was that before today, or just at some point?
Yeah, before today it was just a little bit sore. It wasn’t nothing crazy, it was just a little bit sore. In the game, I think I aggravated it a little bit.
Plantar fasciitis is a scary thing. I mean, it’s something that can plague guys for a long time. Are you worried about it?
Because did you see I finished the game?
So I’m not really worried about it.
I don’t know if there’s anything in particular, but I don’t like to lose, so it makes it tough.
It looked like you tweaked your knee or something there in the fourth quarter.
My ankle, yeah.
And where is that at?
I’ll be alright.
You’ll be alright?
Yeah. He got me. It kind of happens.
Was it on that weird play? The spin around and get fouled or whatever?
Yeah. I was trying to get the ball and I guess he beat me to the spot. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the replay, but I didn’t really get a chance turn. Soon as I tried to catch the ball he hit my leg and forced me to roll on the ankle.
CJ, all throughout the season you guys seem to get big leads and not able to hold them. I know that’s part of the NBA, but what’s your assessment of what’s going on there?
Did we have a big lead tonight?
Ten points at half time.
Ten points at half time? Well, it’s the NBA. Teams are going to withstand runs and make runs of their own, so we got to do a better job of maybe coming back from behind instead of getting big leads. If we try that, maybe that will do us some justice—and take care of the ball and try to withstand runs. But, I mean, they hit some tough shots, like Gerald Green’s three in the corner. Those are crucial possessions where they had to move the ball around and we forced them into a tough shot late in the shot clock. Luol Deng, I don’t think he missed—maybe missed one three today. Coming into the game, Bosh was the best 3-point shooter on the team with 38 percent, so I don’t know if that’s a lack of us defending or guys just getting hot on their own court, but these are NBA players and they’re going to make tough shots after a while.
What can you guys do about your rash of turnovers?
Just try to make smarter passes. I mean, tonight I had a couple. I think I had two tonight. A lot of times when we try to make a pass back in the pick-and-roll and the guys’ got their hands up, they’re active, so it’s not… I don’t think it’s like a selfish turnover. It’s just, we’re trying to make the right play and it gets deflected or over-passing and things like that.
Well, I mean, it’s a long game. I thought Miami obviously shot the ball really well. They haven’t been shooting the three that much or that well, and they certainly did tonight. I thought that was pretty much the biggest thing of the game was their 3-point shooting. Obviously Whiteside had an impact on the game and they were able to capitalize on every offen—they didn’t have many offensive rebounds, but they were able to capitalize on all of them. It was a good offensive night for us, but, like I said, Miami shot the ball very well.
On the flip side for you guys, the hot start in the first half from 3-point land... [In the second half] was it the case of shots not going, did they do something differently defensively?
I don’t know. You’d have to ask Erik [Spoelstra] if they did something differently. I thought we were still getting good looks. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
How big a factor?
Depends on which one, but we’ve had our struggles with turnovers; especially, I don’t know how many we had in the fourth quarter, but that’s, you know, you got possession of the ball, and that’s been one of our problems lately and we just got to get better at it, but it had an impact on the game, certainly.
I don’t know. The ball found [Aminu] in the first half and he shot it with confidence. It’s not necessarily that we ran plays for him in the first half. I liked our ball movement in the first half and the ball was moving around and he was the open guy. I think they may have changed their matchups in the second half, but I think after he hit all those threes, I think they made him a little bit more of a priority.
What was the most discouraging about your defense tonight?
I’d probably have to watch the film. I thought Dame and CJ were honestly very good in the first half, in particular guarding the ball and pressuring the ball. Like I said, 3-point shooting, Gerald Green hits two threes that nobody could guard. You know, Whiteside’s impact in the lane, and rolls. We fouled too much and the fould disparity certainly was the difference other than the technical free throws.
Coach said they scored 63 in the second half. That’s a lot of points to give up in a half. It’s hard to win when you give up that many, and they shot the ball really well from three tonight.
Whiteside was a factor inside. What made him so tough?
Well, they lobbed it up to him a lot. He got a lot of easy ones. And then offensive rebounds. He got a lot of second chance points. I think he got all of their second chance points for them. So those were the main ways, and then he blocked a lot of our shots.
What makes him so hard to pen up?
Well really the attention is on [Dwyane] Wade and these guys, then you go to help and he’s just getting point blank dunks.
You guys have had a lot of leads at halftime, a lot of late leads, and you’re not finishing. Is that encouraging or frustrating?
It’s not encouraging to lose. We’re doing something right to get the lead. We just got to keep doing it or adjust. Teams make adjustments. We have to make better in-game adjustments, handle leads better.
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