The Portland Trail Blazers laid a 105-76 hometown beatdown on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, holding LeBron James to 12 points, tying a season-low. Conversely, Allen Crabbe scored a career-high 26 points, leading the Blazers to an easy victory. CSNNW brings us the post-game interviews:
What just happened there? How did that happen?
How did it happen? We took it to them tonight. We took it to them. It was a good game. We didn’t turn the ball over. Defensively, we did a good job of getting into guys, crowding LeBron. Closing out shooters helping, you know, staying in our shell. Active hands, guys made shots tonight, and it was a good win. Good win in front of out home crowd after Christmas.
Were you surprised?
No. You guys were surprised.
Coach was surprised.
That’s what he’s supposed to say. I wasn’t surprised. I think, obviously, we’ve lost a lot of close games, we’ve hit a little lull here after the road trip, but they were coming off a back-to-back, they’re an older team, we’re a young team. We got rejuvenated after that little break, over Christmas break, so I felt like we’d come out and fight hard tonight, so I wasn’t surprised.
Is it possible that your trust level with Allen has grown this year?
Nah, I always knew AC could hoop. AC’s a guy who’s real comfortable. One-dribble pull-ups, he’s going to make threes, he’s going to defend at a high level, and he’s a good player for our system. He’s a really solid NBA wing who can do a lot of different things and, due to opportunity, you guys are finally starting to see what we’ve already known.
It seems like, particularly in the first half, the ball was really moving a lot. I think you guys had 18 first half assists. Seems like you guys were making that extra pass and finding guys that were open, particularly by the rim.
Yeah, it helped that we didn’t have to take the ball out of bounds every possession like we’ve had to do over the course of our five-six game losing streak. It’s hard to execute, you know, in the halfcourt over and over again, possession in and possession out. You got to make the game easier by getting stops and getting transition run-outs, you know, bigs getting involved, and then Mason [Plumlee] can become a better playmaker in transition. That makes the game easier for everyone.
What was the scene like in here after the game, telling coach he’s got his 150th win and all that?
It was good, man. It was good for us to present that. Damian [Lillard] presented the ball to him. [We] clapped it up for him, congratulated the coaches, and now we move on to a back-to-back.
Did he kind of say ‘That’s enough celebrating, let’s get out of here?’
Oh, we didn’t celebrate. We just congratulated him on—it wasn’t about the Cavs win, it was about his 150th win, because that’s an accomplishment, a milestone. So we just clapped for him and then that was it. Then I got in the ice tub like I always do, text my family and my girl like I always do.
It was good to get back here in front of our home crowd and it just felt good to get a win; especially against a team like that.
[Indiscernible] first half. Talk about that.
Yeah, I just, you know, on the road trip I didn’t shoot the ball well. I was struggling a lot and I was just telling myself ‘I’m due for one,’ man, and we had a good two days off, got to relax, got my legs back up under me, and it was a good night.
No turnovers for you guys in the first half. I mean, pretty good; especially considering the struggles on the road trip in that department.
Yeah, definitely. We just talked about the struggles we had against Cleveland the last time we had played them. You know, we were up big in the first half, and then second half they had turned it up defensively and they got back in the game because they forced us into turnovers. So that was one of our big focuses tonight was just to not turn the ball over and we executed pretty well and our defense was pretty great too. I feel like that allowed us to get out into the break and transition a lot. We got a lot of easy points.
Allen, you guys seemingly had a lot of things going against you. No Damian, five game losing streak, playing against such a good team. How did you guys get your minds prepared for this?
I think it was just good for some of us to get back home and see family. I mean, I couldn’t tell you. We just had a good game, man, and it was perfect timing. It’s always good to come back and play in front of your home crowd. You know, we haven’t been home this whole month, so it was just great to get back here and, you know, playing against a good team like that, everybody was up and excited to play them and we just had a good game tonight.
CJ McCollum & Allen Crabbe
What have you seen from Meyer Leonard the last two games?
McCollum: I think he’s getting his confidence back and getting his swagger back. That’s good, that’s what we need from him. We need him to take shots with confidence and continue to attack, trust his self, trust the work he’s put in. I think it was good for him. It was good for him to find his rhythm.
Crabbe: He’s not thinking too much. He’s playing basketball, letting the game come to him. Obviously he’s a big piece of this team and he can help us a lot and he’s going to keep playing like this. Just tell him to stop thinking so much and just let the game come to him.
I’ll start with this; I think the chance to have a little time off after a rough December… I mean, the month’s not over, but, you know, you talk about two long road trips, losing Damian, not playing particularly well—it felt good to come out here in front of our home crowd the day after Christmas and get a win. We scouted them just like we normally would have, but you know, we came out, we played hard, and I think the defense really was the key. We locked in, understood what we needed to do, and that transitioned into good offense. Allen got it going, CJ had it going a little bit there early, and it was a total team effort, so you really can’t ask for much more tonight.
What’s been the difference with you the last two games?
I think confidence. I could just feel myself getting in a little better groove. Understanding spacing, which is a process. Defensively understanding trying to be in the paint early and then closing out to shooters, being at the rim, being a little bit more aggressive, and being in the paint, honestly, a little more helps when you grab rebounds and you’re around the ball a little more, then I think you kind of get the juices flowing, so to speak, which helps. You get locked into the game, then everything seems to come a little easier.
What did you do to rankle the Cavaliers? Seemed like they were going after you.
I’m not real sure. I don’t hold any grudges. It sure seemed like a little bit they had it out for me. You know, [Iman] Shumpert and I got locked up and I’m not sure why he was so upset about it. And then, of course, the James Jones thing. I was just standing there for a rebound and he was, I suppose, overly aggressive. And then when they ran me off the line, I was going to the basket, it seemed like a rather hard foul, but hey, that’s part of basketball. I’m happy to continue to play through it, but I don’t know if I have a straight shot answer for that.
You guys had kind of a similar game—a similar first half against the Cavs in Cleveland. Got up big, maybe one of your best offensive halves. Did coach remind you of sort of that?
We reminded ourselves, and coach did. Damian’s in there, I’m in there, CJ’s in there, we all remember things and, you know, after the first quarter we had a big lead and said, ‘Come on. Let’s take this into halftime.’ We continued to play well in the second quarter, keep the energy up. Same thing when we came in here for halftime, you know they’re going to come out strong the first five minutes. Be aggressive and be locked in because we don’t want them to make a push and turn this into a game. Our ability tonight to lock in, be good defensively, and then allow that to help our offense, I think is really the key from tonight.