The Portland Trail Blazers succumbed to the smothering defense of the Golden State Warriors in a disappointing Game 2 loss on Tuesday. Despite leading by 11 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Blazers were outscored 34-12 down the stretch, eventually losing 99-110. CSNNW brings us the post-game interviews.
Just because of the type of guys that we have, first of all. I know who I’m on the team with. I know the kind of guys I’m running with, and besides that, we’ve answered the call all season long. We’ve been in bad positions time and time again and we’ve never shied away. We’ve never not answered the call and I don’t see why this time would be any different.
In our last series against the Clippers, we went down 0-2, we went home, and in the next two games they were pretty much full strength. They had their guys and we got it done those two games. Obviously, Golden State is a different monster, we know, but the same thing can happen and that’s what we going in there thinking and believing. We back on our home floor and we got to go out there and play a game like tonight, but finish it.
Is there a sense from the guys that you let an opportunity slip tonight?
Definitely. As the game was winding down, I was just like ‘Man, this was the perfect opportunity.’ We played how we talked about wanting to play in the film. We played hungry, we played physical, we did it together. We were not fun to play against tonight—defensively or offensively—and it wasn’t easy, what we went out there and did, but to come—I think it was maybe six minutes left—at that point, that’s when you got to man up.
You got to nut up and get it done. You got to scratch and claw and whatever is necessary. You got to go out there and do it. I think that’s where Golden State separated themselves. They became the championship team and we started to kind of do things that wasn’t going to give us a chance to win the game. That was the difference in the game.
We played a great three quarters, and they’re a championship team, so we knew that the game would come down the stretch and we would have to execute and get stops late, but we had slippage. The whole entire game we were locked in and we defended really well, we made things a lot tougher for them over the course of tonight’s game than we did in the first game and it showed. We were in control of the game and we slipped on those things.
Offensively, we slipped. We started turning the ball over, shots didn’t go in, and we kind of stopped trusting what we were doing to put ourselves in that position that we had been in the entire game. When you do that, a team like Golden State, they going to take advantage of it, they going to find a way to get it done, and that’s what they did tonight.
On the aisle to your left—Does it feel emotionally like the kind of night a team has to go through as part of the learning process? A young team to grow from in the playoffs, these tough losses?
I think any loss in the playoffs is a tough loss, but tonight especially because we were in control of the game. We had an opportunity to steal one on the road. Things was going our way. We made shots, we played team ball, we really played hard defensively. We were playing a great game and I think nights like tonight; they suck. It hurts to go back in the locker room after you play so well for so long and you come back in there with an ‘L,’ but it is a part of growth. The entire season has been growth for us, but nights like tonight, we got to close that out, we got to get that done, and it was just a missed opportunity.
[…] a little bit in the fourth quarter?
It did. They picked up their pressure, so it makes it harder to make plays and make decisions, you know, make all the right passes. I think that’s a growth thing for us and we’ll have to do it quickly. We did a really good job from game to game doing it, but in the game, as it got a little bit tougher, we needed to do a better job.
You guys were doing so well until the fourth quarter. What happened in the last quarter?
Like I said, they picked up their defensive pressure, and obviously they kept scoring and it was tough for us as we didn’t put the ball in the basket like we did the first three quarters, and that was the game.
Gerald, do you see this as a lost opportunity?
I mean, even though you’re up in the third quarter don’t mean you won the game. That’s why there’s four quarters, that’s why there’s 48 minutes. They give you all the time to win the game and they sustained—really, they turned up their play in the fourth quarter. We sustained it through three and just couldn’t finish it out in the fourth. We were up but we got to finish the game, so yeah, I’d probably say it’s a little disappointing.
You guys were forcing the tempo, especially early in the game, and then that kind of changed in the second half. Again, was that on their defense or…?
Yeah, I mean, like I said, they turned their pressure up. They didn’t have any new people out there guarding, they just got a little more aggressive and we just didn’t get to our same spots and same passes as we did in the first three quarters.
How did Klay [Thompson] get going in the fourth quarter?
Oh man. He’s so difficult to guard. He just keeps moving and he shoots the ball so quickly. He’s so good at using his teammates and they set good screens for him. It’s just tough. I mean, I thought we did a really good job on him—he had 27 points on 20 shots—he made seven. With a guy that’s that aggressive, we’ll take that, but the timing of his shots in the fourth quarter were hard to swallow a little bit.
I don’t think we executed very well down the stretch. We had a lot of turnovers, we didn’t get good shots, we didn’t get back in transition, and we allowed them to go on a run. I think 96-95 somebody ended up hitting a three on their team and then that’s when they kind of went on a run. We had them on the ropes. Had them on the ropes; didn’t knock them out. That’s what good teams do. They hang around and they make a run in the fourth quarter, and we weren’t able to sustain that.
Ball stick a little bit offensively in the fourth?
I think we made the right decision a few times, we just didn’t execute it, and then once we get down 6-7 points guys are trying to take the game over. We got good shots, a coupe in-and-outs down the stretch, a couple turnovers. We hit the bigs a couple times and it happens, but it’s not all offensively—that wasn’t the problem. We got to get stops. If we get stops up 10, up 11, you win the game regardless of if you score or not.
[Indiscernible] consolation that you guys played with them essentially on their home court or…?
Nah, man. There’s not consolations in the playoffs. You win or you lose. It doesn’t matter what the score is. It doesn’t matter how hard you competed. You win or you lose, and that’s what it comes down to. We’re down 2-0 now going home. They took care of business at home and now we got a good opportunity here. We squandered a game I think we should have won tonight and we got to make up for it.
We just got to make better decisions—me in particular down the stretch. We played well for three quarters but that doesn’t win you a game in the playoffs, so we’ll look at the film, learn from it, and come back in Game 3.
Mason, what were they doing that was confusing you or taking you out of it?
I think they were just mixing the coverages. Sometimes they’d help up on the roll, other times they would sag back, so there wasn’t really any consistency, but just got to play basketball, play through things, and make plays. We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.
How did Thompson get [indiscernible]?
Thompson, you know, our guys did a good job on him all game. I think he just kept working, kept moving, and a couple of those were on offensive rebounds, loose balls, and those are the hardest to stay connected on. He did a good job getting himself open.
You guys were down 0-2 in the last series, but how different is it going to be when you guys go back home?
Every series is different. Like I said between Games 1 and 2, we’re a team that learns from our mistakes and really comes back well. Obviously we didn’t win tonight, but you see how we came back from Game 1. We’ll continue to improve and we’re looking forward to Game 3.
[Indiscernible] what kind of loss this is for you?
It sucks. It sucks right now, but you got to get over it and move on. We aren’t going to hang our heads and we’ll be ready come Game 3.