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Damian Lillard And CJ McCollum Describe Meltdown Vs. Rockets

The Blazers were caught off guard by a desperate Rockets team.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers built an impressive 21-point lead against the Houston Rockets but were unable to keep control of the game in the second half, eventually losing 119-105. This loss snapped their six-game winning streak and put them back into the No. 7 spot in the western conference. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum describe what went wrong, via CSNNW:

Damian Lillard

It was frustrating, man, just because we played so well to start the game. We gave them life in that third quarter. We even came out strong and I think we just got a little comfortable. Sometimes when you play so well, you forget how hard what you are actually doing is. We got up on them and they saw a few shots go in; they kept competing; they stuck with it and they played like a desperate team. We kind of took our lead for granted. We took what we had been doing for granted and they found life and came back and won the game.

If there’s such a thing, can you rank losses in a season? Does this rank up there?

I think earlier in the season we had a lot of them that really hurt because we really wanted to win, and now it’s to the point where we’ve won enough games and understood what we did to win those games where you have one like this and it’s like ‘Come on, man,’ you know, it’s one of those losses. Like I said, especially with the way we played the majority of the game and we let it come to that, so it’s definitely frustrating.

I think we started looking at some things that worked for us early in the game and we kept trying to go to it. You got to give credit to them. They played more physical; they turned it up on the defensive end, and they took us out of our offense and made it tougher to just execute it. We just didn’t respond to it well enough.

They seemed to be denying you, especially, in the fourth.

Yeah. A lot of the sets that we like to run, you know, we tried getting to them at different parts of the fourth, but[Trevor] Ariza was guarding me, and he’s a big defender—a long defender—and sometimes when you try to get a hand back or a backdoor, you don’t want to mess around with that. So they disrupted our offense. They did a pretty good job of it and we didn’t play well enough defensively for the way they turned it up.

As a leader, do you imagine you’ll do anything with this loss or will you just kind of put it in the rearview and start focusing on [indiscernible]?

No, I mean, we can’t put it in the rearview mirror because it’s something that we need to grow from. We need to see what happened out there and I think a lot of us—we understand it, we feel it, you know, a lot of guys that didn’t play in the game—they watched it, so they know, but I think we need to address it just because we can’t be comfortable with what we’ve done over the last 15 games or so. We can’t be comfortable with it, and we got to approach it the same way as we did in the beginning of the season. We got to watch it and we got to learn from it and grow from it and go from there.

How would you describe the importance of this trip coming up?

It’s huge. It’s a chance for us to grow. I mean, to have such a challenge in front of us and to go out there and play well and do well on this trip will be really good for us, and it will show what we truly are as a team. Like I said, it’s going to be a challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

If you can, just describe your emotion right now, after this loss.

Like I said earlier, just a little bit frustrated. I think this was a great opportunity for us to just be going on the road with a seven-game win streak, taking care of all these games at home—not just that, it’s that fact that we were in great position to win the game against a team that we pretty much dominated the last two times we played them, so it’s one of those ones where you walking off the court and you thinking about what happened and it’s like ‘Damn, that really just happened.’ We let one slip, but think about it too much and that one will turn into two, so we got to watch it, get our minds right, and get ready for this trip.

CJ McCollum

Well, starting defensively, we didn’t get a lot of stops. James Harden hit some tough shots, but I thought we didn’t do a good job of getting back in transition, had some turnovers. Personally, I had some turnovers. Collectively, we didn’t do as good of job as we did in the first half of moving the ball, and I think it started from not getting stops. When you get stops, the game is easier. You’re out in transition; you’re able to flow, and tonight we didn’t do a lot of things in the second half that we did in the first half.

CJ, what were they doing defensively, especially late there in the fourth quarter?

They were active; they were aggressive; they denied a lot of different passes. Besides that, I think when you don’t get stops, it makes the game a halfcourt game and you got to be more crisp in the halfcourt situations and execute better.

What did you guys kind of get away from there in the third quarter?

I’m going to have to go back and watch it, but I think that defensively that was probably one of our highest rated defensive quarters in terms of giving up points, so we didn’t get stops; we didn’t get back in transition; we didn’t guard the 3-point line; we didn’t do a lot of things well defensively, then offensively heading into the fourth quarter we were stagnant and we were terrible.

How do you stop that from sort of avalanching and piling up?

If I had the answer, I would have called it out; I would have changed things, but we got to go back and watch the film. Obviously, up 21, you’re not supposed to lose those type of games—especially at home, but it happened, so now we got to move forward, watch the film and learn from it.

Where’d you score that jacket?

A good friend of mine dropped it off.

Yeah?

Yeah.

Is that Lionel [Hollins]?

It says Valentine doesn’t it?

Does it mean Darnell?

No.

But, I mean, he wasn’t on that team.

He wasn’t on that team.

He wasn’t, but I like the jacket. A good friend of mine named Marcus got it from Portland gear. He dropped it off.

Nice.

CJ, that’s the first time that Pat Beverley's been on you for an extended period of time. How did that kind of affect you out there?

I don’t think it affected me at all. I think I actually shot a better percentage with Patrick Beverley guarding me.

That’s true.

Did it seem like they were playing kind of with their season on the line?

I mean, they were desperate. They were desperate; they made a lot of plays. Defensively, they were active; they were aggressive, and that’s why we lost.

Does it hurt more—this loss—because you guys had a streak going into it?

I think it hurts just because we were up 21. That’s a game we should have won. We showed we were a better team, but we weren’t a better team for 48 minutes, so they ended up taking the game away from us.