The Portland Trail Blazers finished their three-game road trip with a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, 129-121. It was their third game in four nights and the second half of a back-to-back.
While the team started relatively hot, it lost momentum in the second half as the Bulls started to take over. It is possible that fatigue played its part in this sequence of events, according to Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, who was characteristically hesitant to make any excuses after the game.
I wouldn’t even say it catches up to you. As professionals, we have these type of stretches throughout the season all the time. When you playing on a back-to-back I’m sure every team that’s playing against a team on a back-to-back is over there saying, ‘They tired, they played last night,’ but for us, I’m never thinking about ‘we played last night.’ I’m always present. I’m pretty sure that most NBA players are present in that night and are telling themselves in their head, like, ‘It don’t matter. We can push through and get it done.’
But I think it is a factor. You start to feel some fatigue and you have some mistakes and some breakdowns and stuff like that. I think that’s probably something that comes from being out there back-to-back nights, travel, and it probably played a part tonight. Especially with how we played at the end of the game. It shows that – you know, hitting front rim, missing shots, just being a little bit late on rotations, some fouls – that just shows fatigue. Those are fatigue plays. I guess it’s possible that it played a factor down the stretch and was part of them being over to take over the game in the second.
Head coach Chauncey Billups was a bit more willing to concede concern. Any time a team plays without rest, fatigue is a factor.
That was what I worried about before the game even started. Third game in four nights. We played a ton last night to try to win that game. I worried about that, but, man, we fought. I’m proud of our dudes. We fought the whole game. We had our chances still, just couldn’t get over the hump, but yeah, I just knew that we were tired.
Portland returns home having won two of three games on the road, and now has one night to rest before hosting Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Overall, it was a successful trip for the Trail Blazers.