The Portland Trail Blazers climbed back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-103 on the road. Their record improves to 9-12, good for ninth place in the Western Conference. Jason Quick of CSNNW catches up with a few guys after the game to discuss how they got it done.
Dame, what do you think defined this win for you guys?
I think it was a gutsy game for us. Coming here and getting in a hole again and things not going so well for us offensively, so it’s not like we could just shoot our way out of a hole. We found a way to get it done without trying to outscore them, you know what I mean? We defended, we just tightened up. Usually when you get in a hole, you try to score points in bunches and tonight we didn’t have it going offensively like we would have liked to, so we got deflections, we got stops, and that lets us win the game.
For you personally, I mean, you looked really frustrated out there in the first half. Take me through your mindset and how you persevered through this.
It was a little bit frustrating just because I play at a fast pace, so sometimes it’s hard to see contact because I play so fast and when I get pushed in the back when I want to try to go up and I’m getting pushed out, you know, and then you pick up a foul and you feel like this is the call that you should be getting, it’s frustrating. But you got to stay composed and not let that take over the game. I got a little bit frustrated but I just tried to just stick with it. I know there’s going to be another half to play, I knew we would have a chance to win the game, so that’s kind of what helped me just stick it out.
It’s easy for us to look at Ed Davis’ stats and go, ‘Okay, yeah. He was a factor, 13-and-8,’ but I feel like it goes beyond that. Can you maybe put into perspective what he does for this team?
It takes a person that understands the game, a person that’s willing to let themselves see what’s really going on. You got a guy like Ed going out there and fighting every play. You know it’s probably six of them that he should have got that he didn’t get—or six that he deserved to get that he didn’t get, and he’s constantly getting us extra possessions, he’s constantly talking to myself and CJ [McCollum], trying to figure out, you know, ‘Where should I screen? Where do you want me to roll to?’ He’s the ultimate teammate. That 13-and-8 means 20-and-10 to our team. I think it’s so much bigger than what it looks like on the stat line.
I got on you a little bit for settling for threes, and tonight, you took a key basket and drove. What was your mindset there?
Well, I had the ball on the wing one time. I was able to get to the lane, turn the corner on a big. One time I got to the rim. The next time, when we had a two-point lead, I was at halfcourt and [Ricky] Rubio tried to pressure me at halfcourt. And I just held the ball to let him keep getting tighter. I saw that our big was coming to set a screen on my left, so I waited ‘til he ran up and they big ran up to show and then I took off to my right hand and got to the rim. I always make the play that I feel comfortable making and that I feel is the right play at the time. Had a jumper been there I probably would have shot a jumper, but it was such an open lane that I got to the rim.
Allen, just first, how would you describe this win?
It’s a good win. It’s a first good road trip win for us. We got to stop starting the games like this, you know, having to play catch-up, but we’ve been in situations like this before and I feel like we’re a group that’s shown that we can play coming back. We executed well, stepped up our defense, and we executed on the offensive end as well, so I feel like just us picking up our energy really just helped us get the win.
Did anything particular happen here at halftime? Was anything particularly addressed?
Nah, I mean, because it’s, like I said, even with us winning the game late and us giving up leads, it’s just like this, and we all knew as players, and as a team we’ve been in this situation before too, so it wasn’t any yelling or anything like that from the coaches. It’s us coming together and really telling each other that we got to pick it up. We had to throw the first punch, come out and make a good run so that we can cut the lead down to 10 and we’ll keep working our way and we made runs. So that’s the game of basketball, making runs, and we made a lot and came out with the victory.
I thought CJ and Dame really came through in the second half after struggling early. How would you describe their play?
You expect that from them. Each and every night we know the ball is going to be in their hands. Other teams know that. You know, they’re trying to take that away from them on the pick-and-rolls, trying to trap them, make sure they got the ball out of their hands, but they still found ways to score. And for us, we have to help them when they get trapped and kick it to the big and kick it to the weakside, we need to make plays for them so it can loosen up on them when it comes to pick-and-rolls and they’re not always trapping. You know, teams have to go elsewhere with their coverages, but that’s CJ and Dame for you. They going to find ways to score.
What went through your mind when they were intentionally fouling you, and what was your mind set as you went to the line then?
Just to stick with my routine, knock these two free throws in, you know, two easy points for me and it’s going to help the team and we going to finish this game on down the stretch.
What do you like best about this victory?
It’s another win. You know, it’s tough to win in the NBA; especially on the road, and we have a tough road trip. We got a hungry Milwaukee team coming up, and then Cleveland—they lost tonight and lost to New Orleans last night, so they’re going to be desperate for a win. It’s just a tough road trip and, like I said, to win on the road is tough in the NBA. Whenever you can squeak out wins, it’s always good.
Does winning it the way you guys did it, though, coming from so far behind on the road—does that make it sweeter?
Not really. A win is a win no matter how it comes. You just going to take it how it is. If we would have won by 20 or won by one, at the end of the day a win is a win.
Rebounding. Describe what it’s like to rebound in the NBA inside with all the big bodies.
It’s tough. It’s a lot strong guys in the NBA, a lot of athletic guys, a lot of smart guys. So it’s tough and you just got to be down there fighting.
How do you do it though? How do you do it?
Man, just grind. Just work. It’s something I know I can do every night is rebound, so it’s just something I do every night.