The Trail Blazers allowed 47 first-quarter points in their 133-116 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night and Coach Terry Stotts, as you might expect, was far from pleased with that.
But what you may not have expected is that he had harsh words for his team's defense during his post-game media session – something he seldom does.
“I thought the first 16 minutes of the game was, frankly, a little embarrassing,” he said. “You know, we put up a good fight in the last eight minutes of the second quarter, competed well at both ends and got back into it. But the first 16 minutes were extremely disappointing.”
The Clippers came out a lot more ready than the Trail Blazers did. They were 18-25 from the field, including 7-11 from three-point territory.
Pressed on what disappointed him the most about the defense, Stotts said, “Tonight, it was a little bit of everything. I think there's execution, I think there's effort. I think there's communication.”
The Trail Blazers mounted a spirited comeback that drew them back within two points in the third quarter, but hitting only 11 of 36 threes left them unable to stay with Los Angeles.
Damian Lillard had a particularly rough night. He was just 2-14 from the field, including 1-6 from long range and scored 11 points.
The Trail Blazers ran countless pick-and-rolls, which allowed the Clippers to double-team Lillard. That usually doesn’t seem to disturb Stotts, who likes his team’s ability to find the open man in such situations.
But that didn’t happen a lot Tuesday, as the scrambling Los Angeles defense and Portland’s cautious ball movement did not result in many open shots.
But Stotts was in no mood to discuss his team’s offense.
“Well, I saw that we scored 66 In the first half,” he said. “So, I have a hard time complaining about our offense in the first half, regardless of what they were doing.
“… Keeping Dame involved, I know he gets frustrated by not having clean looks and being double teamed and people taking the ball out of his hands.
“Because of that, you know, Norman had a very good night. CJ had a very good night.
“But my biggest concern is, it's very frustrating for Dame and even if the team is scoring, he wants to be involved, and, you know, it's up to me to help him get quality shots, and it's up to the team to help him when teams are doing that.
“I certainly understand the frustration on Dame’s part. I'm frustrated when teams sell out on him. It's very frustrating for everybody. But on a night like tonight, when we gave up 73 In the first half and scored 66 in the first half, you know I'm looking at the defense first.
“But, as far as Dame, it's up to me and the rest of the team to help him out when teams sell out like that.”
It was a frustrating game that featured the worst and best of Portland’s defense. Paul George ate the Blazers alive in the first quarter but Portland caught a spurt in the second quarter that carried over into the second half when their aggression was turned up at the defensive end and McCollum and Powell were making shots.
Enes Kanter’s 15 rebounds helped the smaller Blazers get a draw on the boards but in the end, as is often the case against the league’s better teams, Portland just couldn’t score enough to make up for its leaky defense.