The Portland Trail Blazers came up short on the second half of a back-to-back in Phoenix. Although they were able to force overtime after squandering a late lead, Eric Bledsoe put the game away with a buzzer beating three over Damian Lillard at the end of the extra period. CSNNW brings us the post-game interviews.
It was a tough game. Obviously, we felt like we should have won but we didn’t finish the game off the way we should have. I think we had a six or seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. You got to sustain that lead and not give them confidence, but all in all (we) got to learn from it, move forward, and not let it happen again.
What is it with you guys playing with the lead? Do you feel like you guys were relaxing a little bit or…?
I don’t relax. I just feel like we got to execute better, and if we get stops, it doesn’t matter how we play offensively. If we get stops on the defensive end, then the game’s over; we can just get stops the rest of the game and run whatever we want on the offensive end, but we got to do a better job of that and preventing their offensive rebound opportunities.
You talk about moving on and learning something. Off the top of your head, immediately, is there anything you can learn from something like this?
Put them away. Up six, up seven, got to put them away. A team like that with good players, they’re going to fight; especially at home. Once they see they got a chance then they really going to try to turn it up. I think it’s a learning experience—obviously, you don’t want to have too many of those. We stole the game in Denver and they took advantage of us here.
Once Meyers (Leonard) slipped—you know, it was similar. We were even saying on the bench, we had a play against Milwaukee at the end of the game last year where it was a similar situation. He made a great read and then went and finished.
What is your progression on that play? Do you go Dame, CJ—?
It was AC (Allen Crabbe) is running the baseline, looking at Dame first, but people watch the league; they weren’t going to give us Dame. Then we were going to look at CJ coming off, and then Meyers just made a good read and slipped it.
Do you have an internal clock in your head? Are you counting?
Well, at that point I knew I just had to get rid of it, so I knew I was getting down to the end of it, but I asked Marc (Davis) to give me a count and he did.
Big picture – how do you feel like you guys are right now?
It’d be better to learn with some wins but, win or lose, there are definitely some things that have to improve. You know, giving up a lot of points in the paint tonight. That hasn’t been the case every game, but it’s something new every game, defensively, so we have to be solid all the way around and we have to be solid for the entire game. I think that’s a big thing too; we give up a lot of long runs to teams whether it be 10-nothing, nine-nothing, 17-nothing to Denver. We have to recognize when teams are going on runs and kind of settle down, get a good look even if we don’t make the shot or don’t let it snowball, I guess.
How would you describe your guys’ (indiscernible)?
Obviously disappointed. That’s not how we wanted to start the road trip, but just got to get on to the next one.
It’s funny, I actually recall a similar play last year in Milwaukee. Same thing. I went to set a screen for Damian and—obviously, this time it was for CJ, but they attract a lot of attention—I slipped for a floater and John Henson got a hand on it, so I knew I was probably going to have a decent opportunity to make a play. I knew Mason would see me. With that play, obviously I’m glad I took advantage, but we weren’t able to come out with the win.
Can you talk about the last shot? (Eric) Bledsoe’s shot?
Tough shot, to be honest with you. I will say this; we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation. Should have tried to obviously finish them off in regulation. Obviously we didn’t. The possession itself, Dame had a good contest, we did exactly what we wanted to do, and he made a tough shot.
When you hit that shot to force overtime you had to feel kind of like Denver. You know, like, ‘this is your night’ kind of thing out there.
Yeah, I think so. As I recall overtime, thinking back on it—I need to watch the film too but—we had a lot of good looks that just didn’t happen to fall and CJ had a couple nice ISO’s—Dame as well—and we just need to go watch the film and understand that our energy in the second half is what we have to bring all the time.
We’re not sneaking up on people this year. What I do know is that we’re a very, very good team, one. Two, like I just mentioned, we have to play all the time like we did in the second half; focus, energy, all those things. And three, it’s a long season. We’re going to be just fine. We’ve worked too hard. This group, I think we really trust each other and we have a good unit. I know Moe (Harkless) after the game was saying ‘We’ve been together and we’ve got to focus and get it done,’ so no more sneaking up on people, we got to bring it.
Did you (indiscernible)?
Yeah, I thought I did a fairly good job. I’m always one to go look at the film first after a game before really commenting too much, but it certainly felt really good to be out there competing with my teammates and being able to have an impact on the game.
I didn’t think we were consistent enough. It was a back-to-back for us. We needed to come out and be sharp. We needed to paly a good game. Each game they’ve played, they’ve been in the game, they’ve competed hard, and they had too many moments in the game where they might have went after a loose ball harder or crashed the glass harder than we did, and still we found ourselves in position to win the game. If we don’t have those slip-ups over the course of the game, maybe we don’t end up in that position and we win this game. They brought it tonight and, like we always do, we gave ourselves a chance. I think it always works itself out that way. Because we had so much slippage and we had to do so much to give ourselves a chance down the stretch, you lose on a shot like that.
Why do you think you guys are having such a hard time holding onto a lead? Kind of been a consistent thing.
I don’t feel like we’ve had trouble holding onto leads. It’s a game of spurts. Teams go on runs; especially when you’re on the road. It happens. I think it goes back to being consistent. On both ends we got to be consistent with what makes us successful on the offensive end, and we got to be consistent on the defensive end with our communication, knowing what the coverages are, just being in spots early, knowing what’s going on. Being familiar with personnel, knowing what the team does when they call plays out, we know it. We go over it days in advance. We got to be better about those things and we just got to handle it that way. But we haven’t been good enough.
The details. We know it. We just got to be sharp. We got to use it to our advantage. When they call a play out three possessions in a row, the second time we should recognize it and we should be able to kind of solve that problem. It shouldn’t be a ongoing thing, but it’s early. It’s a tough way to go out tonight. We’ve had our struggles early, but I’m still confident in what we’re capable of. We still trying to really find ourselves right now for this season. We’ll be fine.
Do you almost feel like (cuts out) that teams are… they know about you? You know what I mean?
I mean, we not going to surprise nobody. We gon’ get teams’ best shot and that’s only going to make us better. It’s great for us to go through some of these things early in the season rather than later. We got smart guys, we got competitive guys, and we got good guys, so I’m sure we’ll solve it and we’ll be better, but it’s frustrating when you’re not being better. You don’t want to keep just saying it. At some point, it’s just put up or shut up. It’s time for us to shut up and just start putting up.
It seems like you’re a little more angry than normal.
Man, I’m not angry, it’s just frustrating. You know what I mean? Basically because of some of the things that we did wrong as a team and to lose on… like that. You know, have a good defensive possession and then a tough shot like that goes in. That’s kind of a heart breaker.