Portland Trail Blazers Coach Chauncey Billups didn’t mince his words when summarizing the team’s disappointing loss to the Denver Nuggets.
After the game, the rookie head coach said he was “confused” by the lack of effort shown during the 94-125 one-sided affair, particularly from the starting unit.
“We missed some shots in the first quarter but I’m just confused, I don’t think we came to compete in this game. I mean this is a team that beat us in the playoffs last year.
“And we come and don’t even compete in the first quarter, so I’m a little disappointed in that effort, you know, you can control if shots will or won’t go down, we had some good looks, but just no fight.”
“Put the second group in, Dennis (Smith Jr.), I thought, gave us a lot of scrap, a lot of fight. Nas (Little), Cody (Zeller), you know all the second unit played as hard as they needed to play. The first unit they just didn’t have it.”
In a sign the rotation was likely to get a shake up, Billups hinted pretty strongly that a change was coming. He also suggested his headaches were coming from the same places consistently.
“It’s coming, that point is coming soon. If we continue to play like that because you know, if you think about it, if you keep playing that way, at some point I have to look at it and say dang, something’s not quite working and then maybe think about shifting some things around.
“I’m seeing some consistent things that I’m not very happy with almost every night. “I just think that there’s no real reason not to have effort. We’ve had a lot of games and I can see being tired, but we don’t practise, we don’t have shootarounds, I’m trying to preserve everything we can with our legs.
“I can see if we come out and we play our behinds off and we just run out of gas, I can live with that, I can live that, but I don’t like losing like this.”
When asked about whether the team was impacted by leader Damian Lillard’s absence, Billups came back claiming that regardless who was available, effort should always be there.
“Obviously when you’re missing your leader and you’re missing best player, there’s probably going to be an impact. But them dudes are missing three starters over there.”
“No matter who plays or not, it should never control whether you play with urgency and desperation.”
“Things are different when you’ve got somebody different running the point or calling the plays, but none of those things should change how hard you play with the urgency.”
The Blazers face the Toronto Raptors Monday evening at 7:00, Pacific.