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Defense Remains Problem For Blazers Who Drop Second Straight

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This one went right down to the wire, but Lillard's Herculean scoring effort was ultimately for naught.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a 50-point effort from Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers narrowly lost to the Toronto Raptors, 115-117. The respective starting backcourts combined for an incredible 140 points; 38 from DeMar DeRozan, 28 from Kyle Lowry, and 24 from C.J. McCollum to go with Lillard's 50. The high-scoring affair was unfortunately marred by perhaps overzealous officiating, but both teams were affected equally. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.

CJ McCollum

You never want to lose games. We competed, but at the end of the day we weren’t able to come away with the win. Gave up a lot of looks at the free throw line, a couple breakdowns defensively, but overall I thought we competed well enough to win the game.

Did that frustration with the fouls lead to frustration with your guys’ mental—

Well, it’s just tough when you can’t get into the flow of a game. There’s no real transition because there’s a foul every possession, so there’s no run-outs. It kind of messed up the flow of the game a little bit, but it happens.

We’ve heard multiple people point to slippage in your defense. How would you evaluate what’s going on with your defense right now?

We’ve got to do a better job of helping each other. Guarding the ball is a five-man job. Weak side; we got to be more tight. Guards got to do a better job of getting into ball screens and making it easier on the bigs so that they’re not playing one-on-one with a guard coming downhill.So there’s a lot of stuff we need to work on, but we’ll get there.

Ed Davis

It was, like, a weird feel to the game. I don’t think either team really got in rhythm just because all the stoppage with the free throws, but they called it both ways. Both teams shot a lot of free throws. A lot of guys were in foul trouble, so it wasn’t just one-sided.

[Indiscernible] you’ve seen him do similar things before, but you’re thoughts on that, particularly in the fourth quarter?

He got it going. He can 40, 50 any night. Like I say, if he wanted to, he could average damn near 40 points, so that’s just him doing him, man.

What was he saying? What was he like? What was his demeanor out there during that stretch?

He was just in a zone. He was aggressive, you know, they were in the penalty, he got to the foul line, hit a couple threes, and he was just going to be aggressive.

[Indiscernible] Can you take anything positive from it [indiscernible] better in their house?

I’m not going to say it’s a moral victory. This was a winnable game for us. Obviously, this is a tough team on their home court, you know, they got two all-stars; two very good players in this league, but we came up a little short and it’s on to the next one.

Damian Lillard

It’s just frustrating, man. Two teams come out there to compete and it seemed like the games was just stopped every possession, but some of it is on us and some of it is them doing a great job of just attacking and being aggressive, drawing contact. Our team, we got to defend better without fouling.

Dame, where do you see the defensive slippage?

I think it’s just not being consistent. Our weak side isn’t where it needs to be as quick as it needs to be. A guy penetrates, and usually the pick-and-roll will allow two guys to defend a two-man pick-and-roll, but that’s with a guy at the nail digging; a guy stunting from the weak side. I think we’re doing those things in spurts. When we’ve been winning games, we’ve done it pretty much every possession. Even when teams score it hasn’t been easy or it hasn’t been a letdown or breakdown. The last couple games we just had too many of those breakdowns. Like I said, when we had got it rolling…we don’t have the luxury of not doing those little things, and the last two games we’ve had slippage doing those things and it resulted in a loss. We got to fix it and just get back on track.

Mason Plumlee

It was probably—real time—one of the longest games we’ve played in. A lot of fouls, man. It’s just very slow. Slowed the game down a lot.

Did that mess with your minds?

I don’t think so, because both teams were fouling. It’s just, like, a slow game.

How would you describe Dame’s performance, particularly late, how he played?

He played really well, man. Played like he has been playing the last couple months.

How would you describe how you guy are playing?

I think coach said earlier that there’s a little slippage. We were playing too well to have that and I think it’s cost us the last two games.

Defensively?

Yeah, I would say defensively. Finishing possessions with rebounds and defensively.