The Portland Trail Blazers got demolished by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Opposing guard Russell Westbrook earned his NBA-leading 12th triple-double of the season by partway through the third quarter, while the Blazers struggled to contain him or make baskets on the other end. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
Men only trip? It’s not a good start to that. I thought you guys didn’t look like men.
We always look like men. I don’t know what you mean by that, but I think when something like this happens, the next time you see us is how you say ‘Men respond. Men admit we didn’t play well enough.’ We didn’t have it tonight. We can’t afford to have games like that, and we did, so it’s unacceptable on our part but, like I said, men face up to that. We didn’t have it tonight; I didn’t have it; nobody played their best game and, against a team like them, that’s not good enough. It gets you beat the way we got beat tonight, but it’s about how you respond. I think it’s important for us to come out and put up a fight next game.
Well, you have a tough one next game. Do you kind of embrace playing a team like San Antonio; 41 straight at home and all that?
Yeah, it’s another opportunity to beat a team that hasn’t lost on their home floor. It’s a huge test. We had a tough game at Golden State, then we got home and won one, come back here and get blown out—a tough loss—and now we got another top team right there with Golden State, one of the best teams in the league. It’s a tough challenge and we just got to be ready for it. Anything could happen in this league on any given night. After tonight, as many good looks as we got that didn’t go in, hopefully that will work in our favor next one.
It was a lot of things. We started off the game well. They weathered that storm and they made a lot of tough shots, but we knew that like to—makes, misses, free throws—they like to get out and push it quick. The urgency wasn’t there. We just didn’t have it tonight. In a game where we really needed to have it, we didn’t have it, but I felt like I got hit a lot out there. If I’m out here being aggressive and I feel like I’m getting hit, at some point I’ma get pissed off. I’ma get frustrated. That’s probably what happened.
Defending Russell—obviously he got going—what were the challenges there and what didn’t happen?
He’s a handful. He was coming off pick-and-rolls, making plays for guys, and they made shots. He didn’t do anything different tonight than what he does all the time. I think the only thing is that it was us. It was hard to stop. We wanted to push him in one direction, we did that, and he had a good game.
They beat us handily. They did a lot of things well. It started when they went on that run and we were never able to recover after the run they went on.
How did they get going on that run?
I don’t know. I have to check the film, but it looked like transition, they were able to get out and run. Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we would have liked. We had a lot of open looks and some of that led to their transition run-outs; a lot of and-1s; a lot of fouls; a lot of 3-pointers in transition; a lot of everything.
How do you stop a guy like Russ? Because he really got going there in the second quarter.
Well he plays like a video game. He’s getting rebounds; he’s getting assists; he’s moving in transition at a rapid pace. You know, he’ll break plays at any time and he’ll get a bucket, so it’s a tough assignment, but collectively, we have to do a better job guarding him with all five. When he drives, we got to pinch down. He puts us in a tough position because he’s always looking to drive; he’s always looking to create something; always looking to be aggressive.
Were you surprised by their efficiency? I mean, this team has struggled with turnovers.
Yeah, I was surprised. They shot the ball extremely well. They took care of the ball better than they usually do and I think, coming into this game, they hadn’t shot the ball as well as a group. Obviously KD [Kevin Durant] and Russ are going to make shots, and [Anthony] Morrow and some of those guys, but a lot of the guys that hadn’t been making shots as of late were hitting shots tonight.
We’ve seen before where this team—when you don’t make shots, it affects you guys on defense. Is there a way to get over that hump or fight through that?
Yeah, I think we just got to stay with it, stay active, stay engaged, and continue to put pressure on. They put pressure on us tonight offensively and we didn’t respond. We weren’t active defensively; we didn’t play with our hands; we didn’t take hard fouls and things like that.
We just stopped scoring the basketball. We got good looks. I think our offense got us good shots, and we just didn’t put any in the basket. They’re too good offensively. You aren’t going to shut them out if you shoot 30—I don’t know what we shot from the field—but if you’re around 30 percent it’s going to be hard to stay in the game.
Can this team get between your guys’ ears? This is two times they’ve kind of thumped you guys.
Yeah, no doubt. It’s a matchup for us that we need to progress, and this last time we play them, show improvement. We’re confident that we can beat anybody on any given night, but we do have to be locked in. Like tonight, I don’t think the shots just—just missing shots, man. I would say that our biggest thing. We had a good game plan coming in; we executed it for the most part. Like I say, we didn’t put the ball in the hole. When that happens, it’s easier to let up on defense and let some things go in transition, and I would say that’s one thing we have to correct going forward. If we’re not making shots, we have to stay disciplined on defense.