The Portland Trail Blazers started their five-game road trip rather poorly, with a 17-point loss to the Houston Rockets. It is clear that defense is an issue for this team, even more so in the absence of stalwart Al-Farouq Aminu, who has now missed five games with a calf injury. The Trail Blazers’ losses during that stretch have been particularly ugly, with an average deficit of 24.3 points. Something needs to change. CSN NW brings us the post-game interviews.
(Indiscernible) and a lot of people are going to get numbers, you know, obviously, teams in general will get all types of numbers, you know what I’m saying? But now, just 14 assists and the way (James Harden) scores and the freedom he plays with; it definitely makes it tougher. He commands a lot of attention and he knows how to use his body well. He somewhat controlled the game tonight and he’s always going to be tough in general. You just really have to, like I said, weather the storm and try to stop not only him but those around him.
Is it possible for you guys to get better on defense?
(Expletive), we can’t get no worse, right? So we got to go somewhere, so I think so. I think, obviously, communication has to pick up and, once again, as a unit, we just got to be accountable and, once again, draw the line with stuff and fully just continue to take it more personal; draw a line. It’s not okay for teams to go on 10-0 runs or go on 15-0 runs, 20—I mean, that’s just never good; especially when we’re trying to go and get two. I think that’s the hugest thing.
How would you describe the mood around here right now?
I mean, it’s just tough. I mean, obviously, we’re disappointed and it’s frustrating, but at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s a defeated type of mood and that’s the most important thing, you know what I mean? It’s a big thing if nobody believes—I’ve been on teams like that—but we’re trying to figure out how to make it work and stuff.
The hardest thing, I mean with basketball, is defense and pinpointing why it’s not working. Can you put your finger on it?
Um… I think it’s just communication, obviously. Communication and, I think, the simple thing to say really is communication and kind of get your work done early to a certain extent. Once again, defense is a team game, so if somebody misses a read or misses their timing, it’s going to have a domino effect, and you mix that in with not being great at rebounding; it’s going to be tough. Not being great at rebounding and transition, you’re going to get results like this.
They were just scoring, man. They were hitting shots, they got out in transition, we just couldn’t get any stops.
Where are you at with your guys’ defense right now?
We just got to continue to keep getting better, man. Just keep working at it. We just got to get better. That’s all there is to it. It’s frustrating because we know we’re better than this, but we just got to keep working.
Are you worried that you kind of settle into bad habits, defensively, and it kind of just lingers and lingers?
I don’t know, I think it’s just communication issues a little bit. A little bit attention to detail. We just got to be focused more and just execute on defense. We score enough—that’s not the problem—we got to get stops.
A lot of people assume that defense is about effort, but it seems like you guys are working hard out there.
It’s not really about—I mean, you got to work hard, obviously, but the thing is you got to work smart too. You can’t just be out there just playing wild and expect to get stops. That’s not how it is. It’s like I said; it’s attention to detail, the game plan, knowing what kind of coverages we’re in. We just got to do a better job executing.
We’ve heard about coach getting mad. Have you guys got mad yet?
I think we’re all mad. I know I’m mad. So yeah. I mean, nobody’s lashed out at anybody, that’s not going to help or anything like that. We talk to each other. Obviously, we know we have to get better, so there’s no point in yelling at each other or stuff like that. We just got to collectively come together and do it.
Just a little frustrated. We kind of suck right now. It’s that simple.
Pretty harsh, coming from you.
I mean, we do. We usually are a pretty good offensive team. We’ve been bad on the offensive end, bad on defense. We trying hard, but we not always making the smartest plays; sometimes letting the offensive end affect the defensive end. Just not good enough. We just not very good right now.
So what’s the next move?
We just got to keep fighting. I think that’s one thing that we have done, even in the Bulls game, even tonight, when it seemed like we couldn’t get a shot to fall sometimes. We got out-rebounded, we were getting beat on the defensive end, and we were trying hard, but it just seemed like it wasn’t going our way.
Usually when things like this happen, you got to just keep fighting and stay with it. It’s important for our team to stay together and that’s, I think, one of the biggest strengths of our team, is we stay together. And then we try to stay positive and we just keep working and keep fighting. I think, at some point, it’ll click and we’ll get it right, then things will be fine, but I think everybody’s frustrated.
I’ve heard multiple people say that communication’s been an issue on defense for you guys. Are you surprised, considering how tight this locker room is, that’s an issue?
I mean, we can be as tight as we want to be. It’s different communicating when you tired, communicating when things are going well. When things are going well, it’s more simple. When it’s going bad, you know, you tend to get quiet and you start to think about what’s going on out there and you kind of get out of the moment a little bit and it becomes harder to still communicate.
I think we’ve had a issue with just being consistent at all those things. You do the things that other teams do almost every possession in spurts, you gon’ be in the position that we been in a few times this year and end up being down by a lot of points.
Dame, I think in your career, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard you be so blunt like that. Is this as frustrated as you’ve been?
I mean, I’ve been more frustrated. I know we gon’ be fine, but it’s just… it’s frustrating for us to be doing the same things, hurting ourselves in the same ways—all of us, myself included. Like I said, we try hard as a group. We just got to be better and we got to stay with it, like I said, but it’s frustrating.