The Portland Trail Blazers played their way to an impressive 130-113 win against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, their signature win of the season so far. After the victory, Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups took the podium to celebrate and talk about the game.
You can watch the interview here. Below are key excepts from Billups’ responses.
On what changed in this game:
We lost our way a little bit defensively... When we play well, it’s our defense that fuels the offense. There’s so many times we came out and we thought we could out-shoot teams and out-offense teams and we’re not built that way right now. We got back to that. I thought our defense was flying around the whole time. We talked about how important it is to get off to good starts. We talked about we need to play better at home. There are certain things we need to do. And we did that. Today we did a really good job of that. We talked about us crashing. We’ve been crashing and going down the last five or six games. We wanted to just get back to what we’ve been trying to do the whole time. I thought today, really from start to finish, we did it, playing against an offensive juggernaut. Knowing that our defense would be challenged today. Look at what De’Aaron [Fox} and also [Domantas] Sabonis did. It was impressive, but we were able to absorb it, because we had so many different efforts from everybody.
On bench production versus Sacramento:
Our bench was incredible tonight. Our bench is, to be honest they’ve been so good most of the year. But tonight was obviously an exceptional night with Duop [Reath] having his career high in points and rebounds. I just thought he was so focused and locked in. I’ve been on him about needing some rebounds and being better defensively. And also I’m telling him, “If you’re not shooting when you’re out there, I don’t know what advantage you give us. You’ve got to see what you’ve got. You’ve got to be out there shooting. If you get an opportunity, you’ve got to shoot it.” He took full advantage of it. I thought he was incredible. tonight. He gave us an option. They tried to pack the paint on us, throwing it back. They played in that drop coverage. He hurt them.
I thought Scoot [Henderson] was incredible. I really did. I thought he was incredible, just his pace, his tempo, attacking that basket. He played with ferocity tonight, which is what I’m always on him. I’m always on him. “Scoot, you should just be playing fast. Be athletic. I’m living with mistakes. Don’t worry about the mistakes. Just play aggressive.” And man I thought he was phenomenal out there tonight. And on both ends of the floor too. I thought his decision-making was really good, very sound. Boy, he gave us a big lift. He really did. He gave us a huge, huge lift.
And ‘Bari [Jabari Walker]...this is becoming kinda normal for Jabari. He plays, he’s so competitive. And he plays with so much fire. The things that we need. And he’s such a good rebounder, another area that we need.
On the relative lack of turnovers in this game:
That was big time. That was big time. That’s one thing that I think has really been hurting our defense, turning the ball over. It’s tough... I just felt like we played with such pace tonight, getting the ball up, there was no like, “What are we in?”
We knew four or five plays that we wanted to play out of and I kind of gave them the keys to do it. Until the fourth quarter, I said, “No, I got it. We’re going to run a play every time. Let’s learn from a lot of our fourth quarters. Let’s just slow it down and get good shots.”
I was very happy and very impressed with how we took care of the basketball.
Billups also talked about Anfernee Simons as a key player, perimeter defense, and the play of centers Moses Brown and Ibou Badji, and facing the San Antonio Spurs and the Victor Wembanyama hype machine this week.