Even though much of the postgame talk was about the unsuccessful coach’s challenge that cost the Trail Blazers their final timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining, there was plenty that the Blazers pointed to when explaining how they let Thursday’s game against the Suns slip away.
Phoenix narrowly defeated Portland 118-117 as they played spoiler to the Blazers clinching a playoff spot.
The call stood.
The shooting foul was charged to Norman Powell after the official review and Devin Booker calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to secure the victory, while the Blazers lost the timeout and time was added to the clock.
But up to that point, the fourth quarter was all about Damian Lillard.
Lillard played the entire second half as the Blazers were determined to secure a win to clinch a playoff spot. Lillard was also on the attack early.
Yet it was the final period that he put the team on his back, as Blazers fans have seen time and time again.
24 of Lillard's 41 points came in the fourth quarter.
McCollum, who added 27 points on an efficient 11-of-19 shooting, was on the same page as his backcourt mate.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned postgame that the plan was for Lillard to play the entire second half, but Lillard had also asked to stay on the floor at the start of the fourth.
The six-time All-Star was trying to do everything in his power to have his team secure the playoff spot and ultimately secure extra days of rest.
But following the loss, the Blazers made it a point to not dwell on allowing the Suns to get too much separation.
If the Blazers beat the Nuggets Sunday, or if the Lakers lose one of their remaining two games, or if the Mavericks lose twice, the Blazers will clinch a playoff spot with a top-six seed.
Now, as Lillard and the Blazers look to put Thursday’s heartbreaking loss behind them, the focus has already shifted to Sunday.
“I think the position that we in, it makes it pretty easy for us,” Lillard explained on how the team will move on from the loss. “That game becomes more important than this game now.
“I wish we was playing tomorrow.”