Playing behind a sizable deficit, the Portland Trail Blazers put up a fourth-quarter fight against the Boston Celtics on Friday, ultimately losing 112-126 against the visitors from the East. The Blazers are now 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the last play-in spot in the Western Conference. The loss moved Portland towards improving their lottery odds, which, at this point, is something to take heart in.
Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups was asked about the team’s late rally after the game and was proud of the effort he saw from his guys.
We haven’t had many games where we don’t give it our all. Game like tonight, we played a team that’s – let’s face it – a team that’s better than us. That’s one of the elite teams in the league; they’re better than we are. So, when you play against teams like that you can’t shoot yourself in the foot because you got to play pretty much an outstanding game to have a shot. But yeah, we kept fighting, we kept scrapping. Dame and a couple guys was able to get freed up and make a few shots, we got some stops, some deflections, some steals. We did that. I’m never surprised at the fight that we show. It’s just kind of who we are. But we gave them too many opportunities to beat us tonight.
From a spectator perspective, that’s about the best that can be hoped for right now: a competitive effort worth watching, a big game from star point guard Damian Lillard, and a loss in the end. The Trail Blazers (31-39) have the sixth-worst record in the NBA as eyes and minds wander toward the 2023 NBA Draft.