After a tough loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers picked up right where they left off, defeating the Chicago Bulls 103-95. CJ McCollum had an off-night, failing to reach double figures for the first time this season, but the bench stepped up to help the Blazers through. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
I love the fact that we played a solid game at home in our last game and we had a meltdown, and it was a tough loss for us coming on a tough trip and we bounced back. We didn’t let it roll over; we didn’t come out here and not play well. We answered the call; we came out and got it done.
The bench was huge for you guys. Just kind of go through who stood out.
I mean, it seemed like AC [Allen Crabbe] was out there longer than I was, you know, but it was impressive to see him chase guys down and run through pin-down screens and chase over flares, and guys made some shots. They got backdoors on me a couple times; a couple cuts where I tipped the ball and they’d get it. Ed saved us a lot of times on the backline of the defense, blocking shots, contesting shots. G [Gerald Henderson] got his hands on balls. Meyers [Leonard] came in and rebounded real well. We had a lot of guys just come in and impact the game. Moe [Harkless], the time he was out there impacted the game, and it was huge.
On a night when CJ McCollum is 1-12 and [Al-Farouq] Aminu is kind of up and down, can you describe the importance of the bench?
It’s huge. It’s huge when he does play well. We’ve needed it when he has played well, but a night like tonight where he can’t get it going—first of all, you have to give him credit for sticking with it. He was still vocal throughout the game; he didn’t pout; he didn’t take himself out of the game—but when you have that, it’s even more big for guys to step up. AC, like I said, he stepped up. G really stepped up, played an aggressive game. When they made runs, a couple times he hit shots to stop the bleeding. Ed making blocks and then running out and Mase [Plumlee] getting his hands on balls. We had a lot of guys really step up.
Were you concerned about playing?
I was a little concerned, honestly. Little strange that I felt to terrible on my birthday. I woke up from my nap and I was nauseous, my head was spinning, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. Unfortunately threw up four times and tried to get some fluids in me and tried to figure out what I could do and was just trying to hold it together. To be back here, number one, playing, but also, this is a big game and they have a lot of bigs. I needed to be ready. It was a little concerning, but I’m glad I stuck it out and kept with it.
So did you get sick at the hotel or here?
Here at the arena. Yeah.
Do you think it was just something you ate or…?
It’s hard to say. I still feel a little nauseous, but I’ll get through it. I would say it might have been something I ate, but hey, it is what it is, we got a win, that’s all that matters.
How many people did you have out there?
Tonight, probably 15-20. Tomorrow night, however, I’m only an hour and 40 from Indy; I’m four hours from here, so tomorrow night will be a couple hundred plus, so it’ll be a lot of fun.
What do you think this team showed with this victory?
Well, it’s a big bounce back win. We’re beating a team like Houston by 21 the other night and unfortunately didn’t finish the game; especially at home. Now, to start a road trip like this, get a really gutsy win—we started off flat, pushed the lead up, kind of lost the lead there, and then were able to finish off the game. So to come out and have a total team effort really—I told Ed [Davis] ‘Play the game,’ with the block right around two minutes to go—and just closing the game out was huge to start this road trip.
How would you describe this victory by you guys?
It’s definitely a good one. It’s definitely a good win to tart off this road trip. It’s a long one and we understand that getting as many wins as you can on the road is what’s best for us right now, so it’s definitely good to start off the road trip with a win. It gives us some confidence going into our next games, but I think we’re off to the right start.
You personally have been kind of struggling a little bit. How would you describe that stretch, and then what enable you to get out of it tonight?
I don’t know, man. Shooter, they go through slumps and I was just going through something for a couple games, but you just got to keep shooting and today it went in. Once you see the ball go in you get a little more confidence and then just keep playing hard.
How would you describe what Ed did tonight?
Oh man, it was huge. I think that block on [Mike] Dunleavy down the stretch was so big, and he really controlled the paint.
What came together second quarter where you guys were able to open up and really make a big lead from there?
I think getting stops. We were giving up a lot of—I mean, they started off the game with a couple and-ones, couple layups, backdoor dunks, so we started making them earn their points and that really turned it for us.
Did you have any curiosity to see how you guys would respond to that Houston game?
Yeah, definitely. We hadn’t had a loss in a while and that was a bad loss. That was, like, being up 20—it’s not how you want to lose. So I thought we showed a lot of maturity with how we came out tonight.
What does this one mean for you guys in terms of have you learned anything about each other?
Yeah, I would say how to move on. Like I said, that Houston loss was bad, but nobody hung their head. We came out and got a win tonight. It’s a good way to start the road trip.
What happened? What happened? How’d you get playing so well?
Another day another dollar for me, man. Just trying to come out there and just help the team, bring energy off the bench. That’s what my role is coming off the bench, either to maintain the lead or pull the lead. That’s what we did tonight. The bench squad, we gave a great effort out there and we definitely contributed to this win tonight.
What do you like about this group of reserves you have? The bench guys you play with?
I think we mesh well. AC can get it going, Gerald can get it going, Moe, Meyers, CJ’s sort of, like, with us in that group and it was just a different dynamic, you know, fun to play with those guys. It’s just everybody can get it going and have a big night on any night.
How would you describe the mood of this team coming into this game after last game?
Honestly, it was a tough loss for us, but we were over it. It’s the NBA. It happens. It’s like ‘Let’s get ready for this road trip. We got Chicago. Let’s try to get this win and go from there.’ We weren’t just pouting about it or mad or anything. We didn’t have practice, we had a shoot around yesterday, so it was over with.
Do you off the top of your head know how many career blocks, what your high is?
Honestly, I thought it was like five or six, but they told me after the game it was four, but I think that’s wrong.