Over the years it's been apparent – no matter what, a Damian Lillard led Trail Blazers squad stands together.
Through thick and thin.
Portland is now 10-8 on the season after Saturday’s improbable come from behind win in big thanks to Lillard’s clutch shot-making as well as Gary Trent Jr.’s defensive awareness to go for the jump ball versus just settling for a foul.
It was as if the Blazers were due for a game-winner like they had against the Bulls.
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts expressed that sentiment immediately following the game, while forward Robert Covington felt the same way after Sunday’s practice.
“Yeah, the last two games got away from us -- OKC and Houston,” Covington explained. “So yes, it was… The way Chicago fought, they made it a great game down the stretch – a back-and-forth battle. It felt good to come out on the other end of a W. Sometimes, though; those losses can be very defeating -- you kind of see the reaction from the Chicago bench.”
Now just over a quarter of the way through the shortened 2020-21 season, the Blazers have fought through injuries with four of their five starters injured at some point this year.
And yet, the Blazers head to Milwaukee riding high with their winning record.
Immediately after the win in Chicago, Damian Lillard expressed what it was like to see his buzzer-beater go in.
“And without those guys being prepared and having the mentality that they’ve had, we wouldn’t be in the position for a game-winner to happen or to win any of these games. I think our young guys, Harry [Giles], ‘Naz’ [Nassir Little], ‘Ant’ [Anfernee Simons] haven’t been playing a whole lot. They all deserve a lot of credit for staying ready, and when this moment came, they were able to help the team still compete with a chance to win games.”
The Blazers are still feeling good following Sunday’s practice.
But just as Covington mentioned how Saturday’s loss could be very defeating for Chicago, Coach Stotts believes that there’s a chance that game could be one that has everlasting positive effects for his squad.
“I think in situations like that you can get on a roll by getting two, three, four wins in a row -- I think that builds momentum. I don’t know how much one game can do it. Now, you can look back afterwards and if we go on a roll after Chicago, maybe we can point back to that, but right now it’s not so much about anything else than getting ready to play Milwaukee and then getting ready to play Washington and go from there.”
And of course it’s about getting healthy as well.
Coach Stotts mentioned that Derrick Jones Jr. went through treatment Sunday and “he is feeling better” after missing his first full game of the season Saturday due to a left foot sprain. The team announced Sunday afternoon that Jones Jr. (left foot sprain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) are out for Monday’s game at Milwaukee.
The Blazers and Bucks tip-off at 5:00 p.m. PST Monday on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.