The Portland Trail Blazers struggled to get back into Thursday's game against the Utah jazz after being outscored by 18 points in the second quarter. Across the board, players identified poor defense as the most notable problem. Although the Blazers would make a run to end the third quarter, the Jazz would hold on to win 109-96. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
I think we were a little bit flat, unfortunately, to start the game. The offense was flowing fairly easy, so I think that it’s kind of human nature, probably, to not really lock in and defend, honestly, the way we had for three games. I thought we tried to keep battling and battling.
Honestly, they made some tough shots, but we knew they were going to come out ready to play after last night. A couple of their guys didn’t play too well. Rodney Hood was 1-13 overall, 1-9 from three. I don’t know what he finished with tonight, but he certainly shot the ball well. Trey Burke came off the bench and scored 27. Again, they made some tough ones, which got them going, but nonetheless, we probably needed to be a little closer, to be a little more aggressive, to try to force some misses. So we have to review the film—same as we did with the wins—and see what we can do better. That’s all we can do.
What does it take when things are kind of snowballing in that second quarter to get back on track?
I think turning up the intensity. Everyone talks about how CJ [McCollum] and Allen [Crabbe] or whoever shot the ball over the last few games, but it started on the defensive end. It honestly did. When you get stops and guys are getting rebounds and zipping the ball and you’re getting out in transition, getting dunks, getting swing-swing corner threes, it feels god and that’s the kind of basketball you want to play. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen tonight.
A lot of the shots that appeared that we contested well and maybe we get a rebound and take off in transition, they made tonight, so again, that’s on us to contest better, to ramp up the intensity, that way we can get the game flowing in a positive direction for us, but that just didn’t seem to happen. I thought the end of the third quarter we made a 15-point swing, maybe, to take it from 29 to 14 or something like that. At that point, it started going the right direction, but unfortunately we just didn’t have it I suppose.
No, no. Wins and losses, to me, you can get something out of regardless. Review the film, see what we could have done better defensively. Again, I think we could have contested better; including myself. There’s a difference between throwing a pass when a guy’s just got his and down and his hands up; there’s a difference if a guard comes off a pick-and-roll, the big is back protecting, and there’s a rearview contest; there’s a difference if, even for me, being more physical at the rim, finishing plays with rebounds. It just seemed like when something needed to go our way it just didn’t.
Big part of this game was the second quarter. How would you describe what happened in that quarter for you guys?
We just didn’t get to our defense. We kind of started the game a little flat, but didn’t get behind. I think as we got into that second quarter it caught up to us a bit. You know, just didn’t play the defense that we’re accustomed to playing to, or have been playing, and then didn’t really hit our shots on the offensive end.
Could you sense that yu guys were going to be flat? That you guys just didn’t have that oomph?
No. No. I mean, we’ve come into every game recently with really good attitudes and focused on what we’re doing, and I thought we had the same thing tonight. Nothing really changed, we just didn’t start the game with that, and it carried over throughout the game.
You personally, where are you at with our game? You’re kind of in fits and starts a lot here.
I didn’t play well tonight. I haven’t played well in a couple games. I didn’t help us do anything tonight really, but I can play better.
How do you mentally handle that or try to deal with that?
Just move on to the next game. It’s not the first set of bad games I’ve played in my career, so I know what I’m capable of doing and I know I can help the team. It’s just a matter of doing it. I don’t feel like I can really play worse. I look at myself as a guy that can… I just know how to play, so it will turn around at some point. It’s not a good game for us, but I feel like I can help the team, obviously, a lot more.
Can you pinpoint a hurdle you need to get over or what’s holding you back?
No. Just uh—
That’s got to make it more frustrating, doesn’t it? It’s not, like, one thing?
No. No. I’m sure when it’ll come, it’ll come. I think I’ve played good defense and done a good job on that end of the court. Offensively, just been inconsistent and, you know, you’re not going to get anything done by going 1-2, going 1-6, 1-7, 2-8—you’re just not going to do much if you don’t be more aggressive and make some more things happen.
I thought you’re first—I believe it was your first attempt—you were kind of on the baseline, you backed a guy down. I thought you were trying to be aggressive, but it was kind of a poor shot. Were you trying to do that to try to get yourself into a rhythm or get yourself into being aggressive?
No, I was just… I was trying to be aggressive, but I just ended up taking a bad shot, but just move onto the next shot.
We didn’t do a very good job tonight, defensively. Granted, they hit some tough shots and they shot well from three, I don’t think we made it tough at all. We gave up and-1s, I didn’t do a good job enough of helping at the nail, [indiscernible] pass away and they gave up a dunk, so we all got to do a better job.
How difficult is it to get back into the game when you get outscored the way you guys did in that second quarter?
It’s tough. It takes a lot of energy if you’re down close to 30, but it’s a long NBA game. It’s a long game so you got to continue to stick with it, continue to fight through it, and eventually try to stem the tide.
How would you describe what happened there in the second quarter?
They shot the ball really well from three. They got a lot of good looks. Everybody was hitting—Rodney Hood, Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward—and then their shooting really carried them.
You guys were a little sloppy with the ball. It seems weird how you guys have that rash of… can you figure that out?
Yeah, I think we were sloppy and I don’t think they had a turnover at the half. They might have had one, so they were real solid executing and we turned it over a lot.
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