The Portland Trail Blazers suffered their sixth-straight loss on Sunday, falling to the Los Angeles Clippers 102-117 at home. They now hold a 31-40 record and remain in the No. 13 spot of the Western Conference standings.
As play-in possibilities slip further and further away, silver lining can be found in what the Trail Blazers are doing right (not much, to be frank). But for star point guard Damian Lillard, focusing on the little positives doesn’t change the dice.
After the game, Lillard was asked about what he takes away from signs of growth and a competitive brand of basketball. He was candid in his response.
I think anytime you see growth and you see stuff that can contribute towards winning attitude and winning behavior and winning things, you accept it. You love to see that from guys. And I think that definitely is something that you got to continue to encourage and continue to build upon as we continue to work toward next season and things like that. But for me, that’s not what I’m interested in. That’s the frustrating part of it is talking about, oh, you know, ‘What’s going to happen next season?’ and us building. Like, that’s not what I’m here to do, especially at this stage in my career. So, as much as it is encouraging to promote that brand of basketball that you probably win with going forward and that’s what we got to learn to make a habit of, right now I’m not out there looking, like, ‘Okay, we making these plays. This is what we got to start doing for next—’ you know, it’s hard for me to remove myself from the present as far as that, and then go forward about being excited about what we’re doing that we can do going forward.
Lillard turns 33 in July and this Trail Blazers team has a long way to go before it looks like a potential contender. There isn’t time for a perennial “next year” focus. Those little things that go right need to become big things sooner than later, but that clearly isn’t happening right now.