The Portland Trail Blazers held on to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 96-88 on Saturday night, earning their first win of the series. Tremendous efforts from center Mason Plumlee made the victory possible while the Clippers focused on the Blazers' guards. CSNNW brings us Plumlee's post-game interview and his teammates' thought on his performance.
I wonder if you can take us back to after Game 1, your emotions and how you felt about your play, and then take us to now and how you were able to flip such a transformation.
The immediate reaction was disappointment. Not only the score, but really how the game went, but then after watching the film, we saw a lot of opportunities as a team and we made adjustments. I thought Game 2 was much better than Game 1 even though we lost by a large margin and, you know, we’re figuring it out.
Mason, after Game 1 and 2, Damian [Lillard] and Terry Stotts as well kind of talked about that… one of the best ways to beat their trap was for you to get the ball and then make plays. I’m just wondering, in terms of your mindset, in terms of strategy, anything different about tonight, working out of those traps?
Not necessarily. I think one difference was Maurice [Harkless] played along the baseline and that presented a lot of easy buckets for us. I would say that was the only difference between this game and—really, last game he was at the 3-points line and he hit a couple threes, so that’s his versatility is a big part of what we’re doing.
I guess what I was more getting at is you individually after Game 1. It was a rough night for you, but you’ve had two awesome games back-to-back. I wonder what behind the scenes you did to sort of flip the switch for you.
I think just watch the film, man. The film—it really shows a lot and you can make adjustments. I think the biggest thing is DeAndre [Jordan] impacted the game so much on the glass that we wanted to do a better job keeping him off the offensive glass, whether it be tap-outs or second chance points right at the rim, so, you know, taking care of those things, and then all the offense and that stuff, it just came.
Hey, Mason. Mike Bresnahan here with the Los Angeles Times. You had more rebounds than DeAndre Jordan and as many assists as Chris Paul; what do you think when you hear those stats?
Probably an awkward stat line. I think the guys on the bench were giving me a hard time for not getting 10 points, but the game is different through adjustments and stuff. They leave certain things open and they take other things away, so really, they put me in a good position by them trapping our guards. Really, I have an advantage every time I catch the ball, so it’s just making the right play.
What were you thinking after the Clippers went up in the fourth quarter after you guys led for most of the game? How did you feel like you guys responded after that?
I thought we did a great job of just keeping our composure. They went on a little bit of a run and took the lead. Some things didn’t go our way. We had some turnovers, some missed shots, some miscommunications on the defensive end, and it seemed like this could be that breaking point where they take over the game, but we answered, we stuck with it, we stayed physical, we kept fighting, made a few shots, got a couple stops, and we pushed through. We definitely pushed through at the end of the game. Those are the ones you got to be able to win in a playoff series.
Things got chippy there. Was that something you were expecting [indiscernible] things got chippy?
It happens. Everybody’s season is on the line right now. I think in every Game 3 so far, it’s been something going on out there, and I think that that says it all. Guys just aren’t ready to go home. I think it was, like, two minutes left and it was a dead ball and I huddled the guys up and I said ‘Are y’all ready to go home? If we don’t finish this out, that’s where we’re going to be headed.’ That’s the situation for us and every other team. This is it, so of course it’s going to get a little bit chippy.
I was aggressive at the start of the first two games. The ball went in the first half of the first game; that game didn’t turn out so great. Last game I said we made the right adjustments, I got looks early, I just didn’t make them. We stuck with that this game and I came out and I knew that this game—if we would have lost this game, we would have been in some real trouble, so I just wanted to come out and leave it out there; be aggressive on the offensive end and help on the defensive end, being in position to help on the glass. I know Mase had his hands full, but just play an aggressive game overall. Just be in attack mode for 48 minutes, and our entire team did that.
What did you like about the defense tonight?
Just that we were active. We had a presence. I think in the first two games we were doing the coverages that we were supposed to be doing and we were doing the right things, but we weren’t doing it aggressive enough and we didn’t make them feel us enough. We still had good defensive games. I think tonight we just took it up a level. We really asserted ourselves and we played like a team that needed to win a game.
What’d you think of Plumlee’s performance?
He was a monster out there. He was our best player out there tonight—20 rebounds. With the attention that me and C.J. [McCollum] get in pick-and-rolls and even hand offs, we got to trust him in the middle to be able to score the ball or make the right play. Tonight, he played close to a perfect game, you know, getting in the middle and he had to be our assist guy. He had to make the plays with the traps, he made free throws, he changed shots in the paint, he battled, and he was our best player out there tonight.
We got a lot of the same looks we got in Game 2, we just made them tonight. W were aggressive, we put some pressure on the defense and attacked and made some shots.
What’d you think of Mason tonight?
He was big. He rebounded at a really high level. He was great when they trapped us, he made the right decisions; throwing lobs, finishing with floaters, he had a nasty tip-dunk, and he kind of changed the game.
CJ, was it a ‘win or go home’ moment for you in this game?
I don’t necessarily think it’s win or go home, but we understood the sense of urgency that had to be there. You never want to go down 3-0. Statistically speaking, a lot of teams don’t come back from 3-0, so we wanted to make sure we competed, protect home court, and play with a sense of urgency.
In the game, did that sense of urgency—was it ever [?] to a point?
I never thought about losing. I was just thinking ‘We going to win this game.’
It got a kind of chippy after tonight a few times. What’d you think about how you guys responded to that?
That was chippy? I’ve seen harder fouls in some of the other games I’ve been watching, but I thought we did a good job. It’s just a game at the end of the day. It’s going to be physical, there’s going to be hard fouls. Guys got a lot on the line. You going to be prideful out there, so expect to see a lot more of that.
So you didn’t think it was overly—?
What do you think this win showed for you guys?
Protect home court. It was a good win. I think we executed a lot better. Still only hit about five or six threes, so we still could shoot the ball a little bit better as a unit, but it was good to see everybody attacking and being aggressive.
That’s what good teams do. They withstand runs, they make plays at the end of the game. They got the ball and their shot-makers’ hands and they made shots. At the end of the day, it’s just about sustaining that—overcoming, I think, in Games 1 and 2, they went on runs and we weren’t able to kind of get back into it. But getting down one or two points, that’s going to happen in close games.
Dame said that towards late in the game you guys were huddled up and he said that, basically, asked you guys if you wanted to go home yet and—
Yeah, yeah. He just said what everybody was thinking. We ain’t trying to go home yet. We’re up right now but we got to make sure we close this game out and don’t get too comfortable, finish the game, and then go home and rest.