Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard cited officiating as one of the two main reasons his team lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference Playoffs series. Lillard made the comments in post-game interviews following the loss. Three-point shooting was the other.
Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian, along with several other media members, caught Lillard’s comments after the game.
“It just seemed like everything we did was a foul,” Lillard said. “I just felt like maybe some of them were fouls but every damn thing we did down the stretch of a playoff game, the whistle was just blown. We’re playing aggressive and physical just like they are and everything we do is a foul. Anytime that’s the case, when you’re getting whistled for a foul pretty much every time, down to stretch of the game when a game is on the line, and you give up a few threes and they shoot that well from three, it’s going to be hard to win the game.”
The Blazers were whistled for 24 personal fouls in the game, resulting in 27 free throws for the Nuggets. Denver earned 18 infractions, with 13 free throws for the Blazers. That gap is wide, but it includes 5 intentional fouls on Portland’s part late in the fourth period, trying to play the clock and gain possession. Eliminate those (and their resulting foul shots), and the Blazers got called for 19 fouls, giving Denver 17 free throws, a much smaller margin of difference.
Lillard also cited three-point shots as a major reason for Portland’s fall:
“I think the major key was how well they shot from the three-point line compared to how we shot from the point-point line,” Lillard said. “It’s a make-or-miss league. In today in this league, everybody is shooting a lot of threes. And the team that’s hot from three, usually comes out on top, especially if the other team isn’t matching that effort from the three-point line.”
Denver shot 20-38 from the arc in Game 3, a 52.6% clip. Portland shot 14-45 for 31.1%.
The two teams will meet again in Game 4 on Saturday at 1:00 PM, Pacific.