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Blazers Shatter Expectations, Rockets Pick Up Pieces

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Standing at 27-27 heading into the All-Star Break, the Blazers have reached .500. The Rockets are just half a game behind them, but cannot find any semblance of the team they were supposed to be.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers laid waste to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, passing them for seventh place in the Western Conference and knocking them clear out of the top-8. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points, doing some leapfrogging of his own as he passed Brandon Roy on the Blazers' all-time scoring list. CSNNW brings us inside each team's locker room.

Damian Lillard

You passed Brandon Roy on the [Blazers] all-time scoring list.

I passed him in scoring tonight?

You did. You’re 15th, he’s 16th now.

That’s an honor just to be moving up on that list, period, but if Brandon Roy got to play as long as he should have played, and people would have liked to see him play, I probably would never pass him. It’s a great accomplishment, it’s and honor, but the more important things is just continuing to be myself and continuing to win games.

Things got pretty heated there, including the [Patrick] Beverley situation. What were your thoughts about that?

I’m not even surprised by it. It seems like every time we play them, it’s something between us. I don’t think it’s anything personal. He’s a competitor. I think just because it’s always been something, every little thing might spark something up, and so far this season, it has.

It puts you in an elite group. Every guy that has ever been a part of that team has been an elite player. Obviously, it’s a very unique opportunity and it’s something that everybody who gets the chance appreciates it a lot. Everybody that I’ve spoken to about their experience, they speak highly of it, so to be one of those guys given the opportunity, it’s an honor.

Moe Harkless

What defined your guys’ first half?

Of the year?

Yeah.

It was a little up and down in the beginning, but I think we’ve kind of put it together now, and we’ve pretty much established how we want to play defensively and offensively. I think we’ve done a good job. We’re rolling right now and we just got to keep it going after the break.

How did you handle when you fell out of the rotation and how did you stay ready to be able to contribute like you are now?

I just came ready to work every day. Just prepared the same way every day—even games I wasn’t playing, I would still just prepare like I was playing and, you know, just stay focused. I think that’s what kept me ready. I didn’t check out. Just stayed locked into everything we were doing and stayed focused.

How do you feel now?

I feel good. I mean, I’m out there playing. I feel comfortable out there, and it’s fun; especially the way we’re playing. We’re playing together, we’re winning games, and we’re playing hard defensively. You know I love to get after it defensively, so it’s just fun being out there and I’m happy to be back on the floor, back in the rotation.

What will you do over the break?

Just spend some time with family. That’s all. I miss my family.

Will you still work on basketball or do you separate from it?

Just for a couple days, I separate myself from it. It’s important to just give your mind a break, so I think being able to spend some time with my family will definitely do that for me, but I got to also realize that it’s right back to work in a week, so we can’t take the whole week off and come back and be out of shape. I’m going to take a couple days off, but I’ll get back to work.

Dwight Howard

We got to figure it out. We got to stop being so negative. We lose games, we negative. We can’t be negative. There’s no way we’re going to succeed if all we do is think negative and talk negative, so we got to stay away from saying stuff like that.

That said, what is broken? We can see missed shots or turnovers—

I’m not finna talk about what’s broken, because all we do is talk about the issues that we have. Nobody’s being positive. We got to say positive stuff. We got to speak positive life into ourselves. We can’t sit up here and speak negativity every single day, because then all you’re doing is putting negative thoughts in your head, so when you get out into the game, that’s when it shows up. The negativity got to stop, no matter who says it. It got to stop. It got to be positive.

That frustrates you?

Of course. We got to be positive. We make a mistake, we put our heads down; we miss a shot, we put our heads down; we don’t make a play on defense, we put our heads down—we got to stay positive. Golden State, the best team in the league, we scored on them last night, they got the ball out, went down the court, and played basketball. We got to do that. We can’t be so negative. Positivity is what wins.

Where do you feel like you guys are doing well as a team right now?

We got to figure something out. Like I said, we got to be positive no matter what.

How much does the break—would help maybe guys clear their heads a little bit?

I think the break will be great. The only thing I want to stress is positivity. When we go out for our break, that’s what has to be on our mind: staying positive, coming back with a positive attitude that the second half is going to be a lot better than the first half.

How surprised are you to see your team in this state?

It’s shocking, but it can happen to any team, so instead of worrying about what we didn’t do the last—what?... 53 games?—it’s figure out what we can do these next games to get better.

James Harden

It’s frustrating.

Did he meet with you guys after?

Who?

The coach, J.B. [Bickerstaff].

Yeah.

What was his message?

That it looked like we’re broken.

Did Daryl [Morey] talk to you guys after the game?

Who?

Daryl.

No.

How surprised are you at where you are right now?

Very surprised. Very surprised.

What are you guys going to do to regroup after this break?

Good question.

What was it, in this game, that he’s referring to and you’re referring to? We can see turnovers and things like that, but are you referring to something more than those kinds of little stats?

Just not willing to help each other out. That’s all it is.

Defensively?

Everything. Both ends of the floor. That’s what a team is.

Do you think the break will help get guys’ minds right, in a sense?

I hope so. I hope so.

Earlier in here, we talked about you guys having meetings and he says ‘Forget about the talk. We need to play.’ Do you think you need more talks?

It’s 55 games into the season. I don’t think, you know, talking is not going to get it done.

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