If you look at the final score of Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series between the Trail Blazers and Spurs, it’s easy to come away thinking that nothing went right all night for the Trail Blazers. After all, how much could have gone right when you trail by as many as 29 points and end up losing by 24?
But if you’re looking for something to feel good about as you wait for Game 2 Thursday night in San Antonio, consider this: The Trail Blazers outscored the Spurs 53-51 in the second half. Portland shot a better percentage from the field (42 percent to 41 percent) and from three (36 percent to 22 percent), outscored San Antonio 20-14 in the paint, pulled down 11 more rebounds and shot three more free throws in the final 24 minutes of Game 1. And while you can certainly chalk some of Portland’s success in the second half to San Antonio being able to rest on the laurels of a 26-point halftime lead, there’s little doubt that the game would have been much closer if the Trail Blazers had performed in the first half the way they did in the second.
Here’s what Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and some of this players thought of the team’s second-half performance, and what they might be able to apply from those last two quarters to Thursday night’s game …
Terry Stotts: “I thought (Aldridge’s) postups in the second half were very effective. I thought we played better in the second half. Now, part of that was being down 20 and maybe San Antonio didn’t have the same energy as they started the game with. But the fact that, the second half, we played a little bit better and the way we needed to play at both ends is something we’ve got to have a focus to do at the beginning of the game.”
Damian Lillard: “I think we took a lot away from the first game, things we could do better, the things that we did better in the second half that worked for us. We’ve just got to come with a better effort, take those things into consideration. The most important thing is just playing harder with more energy.”
“We just played with more urgency. I thought we flew around more, hands were more active, we were a little more aggressive, period, in the second half than we were in the first.”
Nicolas Batum: “We’re not the favorites — nobody thinks we’re going to win — so we’ve got to play like it and go out, be more angry. We were pissed off against Houston. We were madder than then. It’s got to be the same mentality against the Spurs now.”
LaMarcus Aldridge: “We definitely had a much better second half than first half. We felt like that’s the way we have to start the game. Playing through the post, going to the basket and just being better overall. I thought we came out kind of passive.”
Wesley Matthews: “They came out with an edge, they came out with a fire that ‘We’re champs. All these banners, we put all those up there and this is how it is and this is how you play.’ It was kind of eye-opening for all of us. By no means are we intimidated. I think the game still could have went differently if we had made some shots in the first quarter, in the first half, but we didn’t. We bounced back in the second half and played the way we needed to, it was just too much of a deficit. SO now we know what to do coming into Game 2.”
“What killed us was second-chance points. What killed us was transition points. Us beating ourselves, us not cutting off screens, them riding us up, not letting us get to our offense. Give them credit: they threw their punches and we didn’t respond the way we should have and needed to, but we did in the second half. We cut hard, we got into them and for the most part, our pick and roll coverages and halfcourt defense was good.”