All you have to do is win games. There is no additional reward for beauty or margin of victory.
Good thing. The Trail Blazers took down the visiting Orlando Magic 106-97 Tuesday night in Moda Center in a game that provided no intrigue and little visual stimulus.
The only memorable happening was Carmelo Anthony passing Oscar Robertson on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
But the win was all the Trail Blazers needed after a six-game road trip and a long Saturday flight home from New York -- a workmanlike performance and win leading up to Thursday night’s rematch in Moda against Philadelphia, a team Portland upset last week on the road.
The Trail Blazers shot only 38.9 percent from the field and profited from the Magic’s woeful 12-22 performance from the free-throw line.
“We played a solid game throughout the night,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “We got off to a good start. We maintained the lead throughout.
“Orlando made some shots and kept it close and they competed hard, but I thought overall, we played a good game.”
Damian Lillard hit half of his 10 three-point shots and all 13 free throws on the way to 36 points, fighting off pain from the pesky abdominal strain that popped up again during the game.
“It's really important to not drop another game because we lost the last one,” Lillard said. “Given our situation, with injuries and things like that, with our team, we’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity that we get.
“We played another team tonight that was beat up, on our home floor. Our schedule was rearranged and it kind of played into our favor. So, you know, things like that happen and you know you're in a better position than you were in before. And then your opponent is banged up. It's important to take advantage of these games and get them done and so tonight I was happy that we bounced back and took care of business.”
Lillard has dealt with the abdominal issue previously, but usually in training camp.
“I'm in the third quarter about, you know, halfway through, maybe a little bit less than halfway through, my abdominal area just started to tighten up, which is normal,” he said.
“It tightened up from that point on. It was just mental, you know. I've dealt with it before and it's not something that's gonna stop me from being able to play. You know, if it gets that bad, or if I feel like I need to sit to give it some time, I'll do that like I did, versus Philly.
“You know, I just handle it, day to day.”
He’s not certain how long it’s going to last, but feels confident it will eventually go away.
“In the past, probably the last three or four years, it always happens during training camp,” he said. “I go from, you know, just training and working out by myself -- I don't play pickup in the summer, so once I start playing pickup, practicing twice a day and things like that, that's usually when it'll like get upset and lock up and start to tighten up, and I have to limit myself through training camp.
“That's why in the preseason sometimes I'll have one or two games where I play limited minutes and then play one game and then maybe sit one out. I'm usually kind of like nursing that, but as the season goes on and my body gets used to the up and down and you know game after game after game, it just slowly works its way out.
“In the offseason, I really trained it. I worked with a PT all the time, so during training camp it never became an issue. And I think now it was just pushed out a little bit further.
“So we're now, you know, 20-plus games in and it is kicking in. But based off of how it's worked in the past, I think it'll be around for a little bit. Eventually, I'll keep getting treatment, keep training on it, working on it, and eventually I'll be fine.”
And for the Trail Blazers to be fine, Damian Lillard needs to be there, too.