After just six quarters of uninspiring defensive play, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard reached a tipping point. Fresh off a 20-point drubbing from the Jazz, coach Terry Stotts’ squad appeared to be walking down a similar path against the under-staffed Rockets. That is when a Lillard-led discussion unfolded prior to the halftime break on Saturday.
Lillard’s comments were highlighted by The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress on Monday. According to the story, Lillard ditched his calm demeanor and demanded more from himself and his teammates as the Rockets pulled away.
“It wasn’t like a soft-spoken conversation,” Portland guard Damian Lillard said. “It was like, ‘enough!’ What are we going to do? Are we going to let it keep going this way? Are we going to care? Are we going to be too cool? What decision are we going to make?”
It wasn’t pretty, but the Blazers rallied behind a run from CJ McCollum to secure a 128-126 overtime victory against the Rockets—Portland’s first win of the young season.
Moving forward, coach Stotts explained to Fentress that the Blazers’ sense of desperation on the defensive end could yield positive results over the course of their upcoming road trip.
“Ultimately, it comes down to urgency,” Stotts said. “A lot of teams play better when they’re a little bit more desperate and heading into a four-game road trip. We were at a point where we couldn’t afford a loss and the fact that we got together and played as well as we did defensively in the third quarter was good to see.”
The Blazers return to action tonight against the Lakers.
You can read the full story from Fentress at Oregon Live.