For the second straight night, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each tallied 30 points or more– this time in a 112-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Yet, this was no easy victory. The Blazers lost a substantial lead in the third quarter and leaned on their stars to carry them through. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
It just felt like we needed to close the game out strong after blowing a lead early in the third quarter. They went on a little run; we didn’t get a lot of stops. Offensively, we had to be sharp and execute and be efficient down the stretch.
What did you think of the victory? You had the big lead and then they came back.
It’s always good to win. You look at what you could have done differently. Obviously, it was a little too close for comfort, but they are an NBA team, they got a lot of good players, and sometimes there are going to be moments where you have to battle back and be tested and finish strong. I think we did that tonight.
What does it say about where you guys are at that you can get a "Taking care of business" kind of win?
I’d say we’re moving in the right direction. It was a big home win. Obviously, every game is big. You can’t be dropping games at home; especially against teams with a below .500 record, so we wanted to make sure we came out and tried to sustain the way we’ve been playing as of late, and I think we did a good job down the stretch of defending better and getting stops.
What did you think of Damian’s performance tonight?
It was good. He made big shots, he took big shots, and that’s what we need. Each and every night we need him to consistently perform at a high level, and I think he’s been doing that.
Did you know he was 14-for-14 at the line?
No, I didn’t, but that’s good. That’s really good.
Any chatter in here about the MVP chants for him?
No, we haven’t really discussed that. He’s playing at an elite level right now, and we need him to sustain that up until the rest of the season—up until April, May—and I think he’s done a great job of consistently performing, taking care of his body. He’s still battling the foot stuff. It doesn’t just go away. So I think he’s done a great job of taking care of his body and figuring out how to balance reps versus rest.
I know this has happened before to you in your career, where fans have chanted MVP to you…
That was the first time I ever heard it.
I think it’s happened before to you.
It’s been real small. Real small.
That was the first time I heard it.
Legitimately now, you look at what you guys are doing and what you are doing for this team, that’s not so crazy to think.
I mean, that ain’t for me to say. I said it a month-and-a-half ago—my focus is to pour myself into the team. The reason why they were chanting it is because I’ve poured myself into the team and we’ve gotten better and we’re winning games and I’m playing well through that. So I’ll just continue to do what I do and I’ll let everybody else make the decisions like they have been and they always will.
What did that mean to you, though, to hear them?
It meant a lot. When I got up to the free throw line, I heard it was growing a little bit, then I made the first one, and then it got loud. I could see all the fans, like, standing up and stuff, so that let me know that they really meant that chant. So it was a great feeling and I just got to continue to do what I’m doing.
I think it—mostly the end—it says that we’ve grown. We’ve become a better team. We controlled the game for two or three quarters and then at the end of the third, the last couple minutes, they… you know, we had a 14-point lead and I think they took the lead by, like, three I guess. We showed some fight. We didn’t panic and let the game completely slip away like we’ve done in games in the past. In the fourth quarter, our defense was as good as it had been that entire game. It’s good to know that we can hang our hat on that and win games.
Is there a cautionary tale somewhere in this game though?
I mean, we got it done. The credit is going to the same thing; trusting and sticking to what we’ve done over this stretch, and it showed through once again. It’s that simple.
You’re down three with about six minutes to go—did you feel you needed to take over offensively at that point?
Yeah. At that point you just got to go win the game. We made our mistakes, they made theirs, they made a push, and they took the lead. At that point, everything else is out the window. Players got to play. CJ stepped up big; Mase [Plumlee] did a great job on the block. Even when Brook [Lopez] did score, he had a hard time. He was physical, he had to work for it—same thing with Joe Johnson when Chief [Al-Farouq Aminu] was on him. They had to work on offense, and when we came down we pushed it at them and we were aggressive. At that point in the game, players got to go win it; players got to play, and we did that.
Damian, how about becoming just the second Blazer to have five straight games of 30 points?
It’s another great accomplishment. Like I said before, I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win games and continue to win games. Tonight, once again, it was necessary.
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