The Portland Trail Blazers held off the Phoenix Suns to win 124-121 at home on Tuesday night. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 71 points while Moe Harkless continued his emergence as Portland’s third scorer with 20 points of his own. CSN NW brings us the post-game interviews.
– You were feeling. Talk a little bit about that.
I just tried to be aggressive. Got some good hand offs from Mason (Plumlee) early on, got some good looks—pull-ups, threes—and shots just fell.
Do you look back on this game as pulling out a good win when they came back in the fourth, or blowing that 18-point lead?
We got to do a better job, but it’s part of the learning process, part of our growth. Hopefully Chief (Al-Farouq Aminu) is alright, and just continue to move forward. Count it as a win and move on.
What’s been different for you personally in these last couple of games when you really got things going?
I just made shots. That was the difference. I been getting the same looks the entire season. I could’ve had these nights early on in the season, but I just didn’t make shots. It happens, but I’m the same player I was six games ago.
You guys had 20 turnovers. (It was a) fast-paced game. Is that part of it, or do you think you were sloppy?
I think it was a combination. We got to do a better job taking care of the ball and they were physical. A lot of fouls being called; a lot of fouls not being called. We have to make the right decisions and not try to force the action so much, but part of playing fast is going to be some sloppy play. We just got to try to limit the turnovers.
What have you seen from Moe (Harkless) the last couple games?
He’s been aggressive. He’s attacking and finishing in the paint, hitting some threes. And defensively, he’s doing a better job of being active and letting that dictate his offense.
I’m not exactly sure what it’s called, but my left calf… something happened. I was actually about to go see the trainer right now to kind of figure some things out.
Did it just tighten up on you, cramp up, or—?
No, it wasn’t a cramp. Obviously, it just… I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe it or whatever the case might be, like, technically or anything like that, but it was my calf.
Can you walk without pain right now?
No, not so much. Not so much.
So you probably won’t play tomorrow?
Yeah, probably not.
Does it feel like a long-term thing?
I don’t know how long-term things feel. I’ve never really been injured like that or anything like that, so hopefully in the morning it feels like a miracle and I can jump. So just going to take everything day-by-day and, obviously, if it was something that I’d done before I could tell you more about it, but because it’s the first time—even to my calf or anything like that, or either of my calves, or whatever the case may be—I’m kind of in the dark. That’s why I was going to talk to people that know a little more about it.
We had a little bit of a letdown; started giving up some offensive rebounds, had a few turnovers. They got it going a little bit. They’ve done it in almost every game they’ve played in. They’ve competed really hard. They played really hard. They’re a tough team to play against. Once it got to that point, players got to play, you know, you got to just get it done. That’s what I did. We went out there, I thought we started playing a little bit harder. Sometimes they made shots, sometimes they got called for fouls, but we made plays offensively and we challenged them on the other end as well and we was able to pull it out.
Do you look at this as a positive because you were able to answer in the fourth quarter, or do you look back at that 18-point lead in the first and kind of get frustrated?
I think it’s something that we need to work on. We talk about it, just being able to play the way that we want to play for longer spans of time. We’ll play really well for seven minutes and then in four minutes we’ll give up a 15-2 run and kind of give up everything we just worked for. But we got to continue to work at that. The good thing is we’re able to find a way to win games while we work on ourselves. I think that’s much better than losing games and saying ‘We’re working on ourselves.’
But you go to film, you continue to watch and learn and figure out what’s going wrong and see what’s necessary so we don’t put ourselves in those positions. Tonight, they made some tough shots, we got called for fouls, we fouled them a lot, but most importantly, we got the win. Now we got to go into this game tomorrow and lock in and try to get another on the road.
What did you think of CJ, Damian, in the first quarter?
He was CJ. He looked special out there. He was scoring, he was tough layups, pull-up jumpers, threes, making plays, rebounding the ball. He played another great game. Once again, in the first half, you see a guy going like that, it’s my job to continue to feed him and let him just continue it. We rode that out, we built up a pretty good lead, had a big first quarter, and once he kind of cooled off a little bit, that’s when I started to get a little bit more aggressive and try to find my way. Fortunate for me, I was able to do that.