After a rough outing in Philadelphia, the Portland Trail Blazers stepped it up in a 108-98 win over the Washington Wizards. Outside of a spotty second quarter, in which they gave up 40 points, it was one of their most well-rounded performances. CSNNW gets player reactions from inside the locker room.
What was your guys’ mindset coming into this game following Philadelphia?
Well, we talked a little bit about Philadelphia yesterday and then, obviously, looked at the scouting stuff for Washington today. Pretty frustrated with how we played. Didn’t have much of an edge against Philadelphia and, you know, we didn’t throw it away, we just really thought about it more—not from a basketball side—just how you approach the game and you got to respect each team.
So we knew coming into today, Washington was playing well. Transition team, aggressive on the defensive end, so we were going to have to really lock into their tendencies, be ready for them in transition, continue to share the ball, and be ourselves. As we showed for the majority of the game, aside from the second quarter really, the ball was really moving, guys were trusting the next pass, and it was a pretty complete game for us.
How would you describe your guys’ effort tonight?
I thought our effort was really good. Again, we took a bit of a dip there in the second quarter, but that’s going to happen. But as far as getting into the ball, understanding what they wanted to do, and then being able to execute on the offensive end, I thought we did a pretty good job from top to bottom on both ends of the court.
What does it say about this team to be able to get over that Philadelphia game immediately and have a better effort?
Well, it’s definitely huge. We’re a relatively young team, and you talk about winning three and then getting beat by a team that only had four wins… the ability to come back and lock in and not dwell on what had happened is big for us, I would say. That’s the beauty of the NBA sometimes. Let’s say you have a game against someone like Golden State and then all of a sudden you lose to a team with only four wins. You have to be able to kind of keep an even keel mind with both situations.
Why do you think you guys won tonight?
I just thought our energy was very good and our attention to detail. Again, we knew that they were going to get out in transition, you know, John Wall’s strong right, some really good shooters—you look at our scouting board, a lot of those guys were green, meaning they’re 3-point shooters able to space the court.
So, again, attention to detail on the defensive end and rebounding the ball. You know, Mason [Plumlee] and Noah [Vonleh] I thought did a really, really good job of rebounding; especially there early in the second half. That translated into offense for us, where we’re playing in flow, everyone’s feeling good, the ball is swinging around, guys are getting wide open shots—and that’s when the game becomes really fun. When you’re trusting each other.
I thought the staff handled it very well. It wasn’t a situation where they said ‘Flush it, forget about it.’ We addressed some things, and then guys were really locked in coming into this game, to the game plan, and then we played with energy from the jump and we competed.
[Indiscernible] practice like yesterday. You know, talk about the message.
The practice itself was focused on Washington, preparing for them. I thought we had a really good game plan.
I guess in light of Philly is what I meant. You at least talked about—
Yeah, yeah, we had a meeting at the hotel just like any other, you know. Meet at the hotel before we went to practice. Coach made some good points and I thought guys came back really well.
What was the biggest improvement from the Philadelphia game?
Just the energy. Just the mindset defensively, getting stops. I think if you take the second quarter out of it, it was one of our better defensive games on this road trip.
Was it just shots falling that made the ball movement that much crisper? Because it seems like the ball was really moving around.
Yeah, it was. It was really moving. I think just the decisive plays. You know, guys, if they’re shooting it they’re shooting it, if they’re passing they’re passing, but there wasn’t any hesitation.
Safe to say you were motivated to put Philly behind you and prove that that was—
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You lose to anybody—Philly or otherwise—by that much, we were never in the game, the game was over really by the second quarter, so anytime, that’s a bad taste no matter who it is. Can’t think of another… maybe at OKC this year was another game like that, but you always want to come back strong after something like that.
What does that say about this team that you can lose to Philly, but yet come back and dominate this game?
It just shows that we can play with anybody and we can lose to anybody too, but that’s the NBA, man. Good players throughout the league and if you don’t come ready to play, that can happen.
It was huge; especially, you know, we had been playing well, and we come out of Philly and we stink it up. It would have been easy to say ‘We won the first game, we’ve played well, we played bad against Philly,’ and then come out here and just be like ‘Alright, it’s going to be whatever,’ but we had our minds right. Guys came in prepared, we locked in on the scouting report, and we got off to a good start. We had some slippage, they got back into it, but we was able to turn it back up in the third quarter and keep it on them.
What was the message from the staff yesterday after Philly?
It was just that we weren’t ourselves. Everything that we had been doing up to that point we just stopped doing. They weren’t sure why, but, I mean, it wasn’t just one thing or two things, it was so many things that it was just like ‘We know better.’ There’s no excuse for it, and tonight we just answered the call.
We invite you to help send 2000 underprivileged kids to see the Blazers play the Sacramento Kings on March 28th. Your ticket donations make this possible. You can donate through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.