After the New Orleans Pelicans blew a 17-point lead on Tuesday to give the Portland Trail Blazers the first of two wins in the series, Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy had some thoughts on the officiating.
He also had a problem with Damian Lillard’s huge night at the foul line, where the Trail Blazers star guard drained 18 free throw attempts in the 125-124 victory.
"You can't get within three feet of him – that's a problem," Van Gundy said of Lillard. "He had the one where he just stopped and fell down, so they game the call; there's no foul there. That will help us at the end of close games, when our guys get older and establish themselves more, and start to get some of the calls that Dame gets."
Van Gundy was certainly sour about Lillard’s 50-point masterpiece, and as the two teams faced off again on Thursday, Trail Blazers fans got out their popcorn and waited for sparks.
It looked as if the 61-year-old coach and the six-time NBA All-Star were jawing at one another again in the first few quarters, but as it turns out, Lillard said he and Van Gundy merely shared some laughs about the banter.
“After last game, I shot 18 free throws and I saw that he said, ‘you can’t come within three feet of him,'" Lillard said post-game. "And tonight, I had only shot like two free throws at that point. Like, I walked over to him, and was like coach, ‘do I ever get fouled?’ ‘Cos every time I went to the line, the second time I went to the line, he stood up and was like with his hands up like nobody touched me and it was probably the easiest one of the night. And we just kind of had a laugh about it. I just walked over and was like ‘coach, do I ever get fouled’ and ‘he was like yeah, you do get fouled...'
Perhaps Van Gundy was in a better mood as Lillard only made it to the free-throw line six times on Thursday night, but you know he scored all six points.
And that wasn’t nearly enough to stop the Trail Blazers star, who unleashed 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting and 6-of-15 from three-point range. Ultimately, it was Portland who walked away with the second win of the series with a 101-93 victory, but Dame had the last laugh.