The Trail Blazer season -- and perhaps Terry Stotts' tenure as the team's head coach -- ended not with a bang, but a whimper Thursday night in Moda Center.
Portland lost its first-round playoff series in its sixth game, by blowing a 13-point lead with three minutes left in the third quarter and collapsing down the stretch at both ends of the court.
The final score was 126-115 in what likely will be the final game Terry Stotts coaches the Trail Blazers.
This began as a no-excuse season when the Blazers took off-season steps to shore up last season’s leaky defense -- but to no avail.
And even though the Portland offense was extraordinarily good, defense was a constant problem in what proved to be a disappointing season -- in a year when it appears the Western Conference is as wide open as it has been in several seasons,.
Stotts has had nine seasons in Portland and there is evidence that in the last few seasons, he either hasn’t been able to find a useful defensive scheme, or his players quit listening to him.
His other issue has been accountability. Has he been holding his players accountable for their defensive mistakes or lack of interest in defending? At times, it didn’t appear so.
Asked about his future in Portland after the game, Stotts responded with a predictable answer.
“My job security? I’m under contract for two more years,” he said. “Just like at the end of every year, we're all evaluated -- players, coaches, management, we're all evaluated.
“So, we'll see what happens. But, you know, at the end of the season, when you lose, everybody's evaluated … so we'll see what happens. But all I know is that I'm under contract for two more years.”
The smart money is saying that he will likely be collecting that contract somewhere other than Portland.
Change is in the air.
And this playoff series, against a team without its starting backcourt, didn’t do anything to help Stotts.
The Blazers shot 50.6 from the field and 41.7 from three-point range Thursday and the Nuggets did better in both categories.
In the fourth quarter, with the season on the line, Denver shot 50 percent from the field and the same from three-point distance. Portland, with that great offense all season, was completely disconnected on offense – making just 5 of 18 shots, including 0-5 from three.
The Nuggets rattled off 11 straight points late in the fourth period to put the game away. The Blazers were outscored 28-14 in the fourth quarter. Asked about the final-quarter meltdown, Stotts played it down.
“I kind of tend to stay away from the word meltdown,” Stotts said. “Sounds a little over the top. But we didn't make some shots. They made some big plays.”
It may not have been a meltdown, but if not, it was a nice impersonation of one.
And likely the last one Terry Stotts will see as the Trail Blazer coach.