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Blazers Hold Strong, Have Eyes Set On Playoffs

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Now sitting at 39-36, the Blazers earned a few days off with a win over the shorthanded Kings.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers held together against a Sacramento Kings team that was sitting several starters, winning 105-93. With seven games left to play, the Blazers have moved to just 2.5 games behind the fifth seeded Memphis GrizzliesCSNNW brings us inside the locker room.

CJ McCollum

CJ, how hard or weird is it to start out against a team that they look nothing like their [indiscernible]?

It’s different. Obviously, they had a lot of guys sitting out tonight for various reasons, but there’s a lot of NBA players in this league that are very capable of playing at a high level, so I’m sure a lot of those guys on Sacramento were relishing the opportunity to perform and they played hard. We just tried to come out and protect home court.

With the Philadelphia game—how things went—was that kind of fresh in your minds to not kind of take this lightly?

Yeah. I mean, this is the NBA, so regardless of who comes out there, guys can play. It just depends on their situation, depends on their role and what’s being asked of them, but when you see a team sit out three or four starters, you know other guys are going to be aggressive. You never know what kind of plays they’re going to run, because the entire offense changes once [DeMarcus] Cousins goes out the game and once there’s no [Rajon] Rondo, once there’s no Rudy Gay. So there’s less isolations, more pick-and-roles, more fast break opportunities.

Damian Lillard

I think that was a great way to get some rest, not having to play the fourth. Our team handled our business in the first three quarters and I was able to rest that way. We have a day tomorrow—I think we don’t play ‘til Thursday—so honestly, I don’t really care for to even talk about it. I’m going to play. That’s the bottom line. Our team is winning games when we need to win games and that’s all that matters.

Do you think the whole thing is kind of silly?

It is silly. Very.

Allen Crabbe

I feel like this could be a game where we could take it lightly or take plays off and we had some slippage in the first half. We addressed those things here in halftime and made sure we came out in the second half with more intensity, and turn them over, make sure we were careful with the ball because we had a few turnovers ourselves, just make sure we executed the right way.

Do you think different when it comes to the defense when you guys come out early, hitting shots? You made 7-9 of your first 3-pointers. Does that change the way that the defense [indiscernible] for you guys?

I think we’re more engaged. I feel like when we’re making shots, sometimes you can find yourself getting frustrated and sometimes your offense can carry over into your defense intensity, but I feel like us coming out strong really helped us out to get out to a big lead. Like I said, we adjusted our mistakes and got the lead back up and everybody got to play tonight.

You had mentioned… to extend the lead. After the way that the game went against the Sixers, was that on your guys’ mind tonight, knowing that they were undermanned?

Yeah, we just knew that regardless of them not having their starters, we knew that they’re still NBA players; that they’re all still capable of making an impact on the game, and if we gave them any daylight or we gave them any confidence, we knew that they could come out and give us a game. So that was one thing that we really talked about before the game to make sure that we just took their confidence and hit them hard when we first came out.

Hey, Allen. You guys are just three back from Memphis now in the loss column. Is that something you guys are thinking about? Moving up to fifth?

We just trying to get as many wins as we can for the rest of the season. We really haven’t talked as a team where we want to finish, but I feel like our main thing is just making the playoffs.