Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers ‘embarrassing’ loss to Nuggets has focused their attention

Trail Blazers

"Disappointing.”

“Embarrassing.”

“Unacceptable.”

All three words were used during the Trail Blazers postgame interviews to describe the team's defensive effort in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets.

A game in which Portland gave up 41 points in the first quarter and watched the Nuggets ball movement destroy the entire flow of the game.  

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It is clear that Portland is still searching for its defensive identity with the new personnel and changes on that end of the floor. 

[RELATED: Trail Blazers' search for improved defense took a big step backward at Denver]

The Trail Blazers tried to sum up what happened in Denver Wednesday night, as head coach Terry Stotts started off by saying he didn’t think it was because of a lack of effort.

 

“Defensively, in the first quarter, we got off to a poor start. We looked a little disorganized. It was very disappointing,” Coach Stotts said. “I do think Denver took advantage with some good passing and good shot making, but very disappointed with our defense this game.”

I think it was more just positioning and reading and communicating, I wouldn’t necessarily call it effort.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

Stotts wouldn’t go as far to say it was a “wake up call” of a game, but now it’s back to the drawing board and back to watching game film.

Denver shot 52.3 percent from the floor for the game and went 19-of-46 from three. While the Blazers shot 37.8 percent and made just nine of their 34 three-point attempts.

It was not a good game all around.

And the Blazers know it. 

We didn’t play well. We didn’t play well at either end… We’ve got a regular season game in a week. I think we understand that there’s some things we’ve got to get better at.

Coach Stotts

But of course, it’s the defense that needs and has the Blazers attention.

“The concern is defense and doing some things differently in a short amount of time is challenging,” Stotts said.

The Nuggets were able to break the Blazers down defensively, both at the rim and on the perimeter. But it should be noted that the preseason is all about learning and continuing to grow as a team, just as Enes Kanter explained postgame. 

I think right now -- we just need to learn from our mistakes. One more preseason game and then the regular season starts… Tomorrow practice hard and just learn from the mistakes we did tonight and just move forward.

Enes Kanter

Kanter also mentioned that in the Blazers’ first preseason game in which they took it to the Kings, they were communicating a lot more than on Wednesday night in Denver.

The Blazers held the Nuggets to 21 points in the third quarter, and for Robert Covington who was a bright spot for the Blazers Wednesday night, he believes that once the team was able to combat the Mile High City’s altitude the game was a different story.

The altitude played a major part in it and hit guys pretty well. So just trying to get past that first wind and they move the ball really well. What we was doing – we was a little bit late in our rotations, but that just comes from the altitude playing a major factor and once we was able to lock in and get that second wind about us we was able to play differently.

Robert Covington

The 30-year-old forward finished with 15 points on six-of-nine shooting to go along with three rebounds and one steal in 27 minutes of work.

 

But he’s not letting altitude be the only excuse for a poor start defensively.   

Forty-one points in the first quarter is unacceptable.

Robert Covington

“Like I said, it’s getting past that first wind and Denver played really well, so we was playing catch up for a vast majority of the game. You take that first quarter away; it’s a different chance for the game,” Covington added.

The Trail Blazers starting power forward believes that Friday’s game in Denver, the team will “have a different demeanor.”

“We’re definitely going to watch film and see how they broke us down,” Covington said. “We just got to continue to build off of certain things… Guys are trying to just get a different feel for everything.”

Covington also put the onus on himself as being one of the defensive leaders that was brought in to fill that primary wing defender role.

He knows that how he leads on that end of the floor is how the Blazers starting unit will go.

"I just got to do a better job of being a vocal leader out there on the defensive end and setting the tone," Covington said postgame. "My engagement next game is going to be able to uplift everybody."

The Trail Blazers get a day to better prepare for the Nuggets before Portland and Denver tip-off at 6:00p.m. on NBCSNW Friday.