Evidently it’s radio interview transcript day here at ForwardCenter.net. First there was LaMarcus Aldridge’s great interview on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and now we’ve got Terry Stotts on the Jim Rome Show, also from this morning.
In the interview, Stotts is asked about winning Game 1 in Houston, the performances of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Mo Williams charging up Nicolas Batum, whether there are lessons to be taken from Monday night’s wins by the Clippers and Grizzlies and the reasons why he doesn’t think the “Hack-A-Howard” is bad for the NBA.
Jim Rome: I’m joined right now by the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. He led them to a 21-win improvement over last season, most in franchise history. I thought they were unbelievable in beating back Houston in overtime on Sunday night. Game 2 of that series, Portland at Houston, tomorrow night at 9:30 PM Eastern. I’m joined by Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Terry good to have you back. How are you?
Terry Stotts: I’m doing great. How are you doing?
Jim Rome: Good Terry. After the regular season finale Terry, you said “Now the fun starts.” Exactly how much fun did you have Sunday night in Houston?
Terry Stotts: (Laughs) It was a really fun game. It was intense and I certainly had more fun once the final buzzer sounded. It was a great playoff game and I was proud of the way our team played and when you can pull out a game like that on the road, it is fun.
Jim Rome: The team was on the ropes multiple times in that game and simply refused to lose, refused to give in. How pleased were you then, not just with the win, but how your guys won that game?
Terry Stotts: Probably more so about how we competed. We got down double digits in the first half, we got down double digits late in the fourth quarter, we got down early in the overtime and we just kept finding ways to come back, whether it was with defensive plays or making big shots. As a coach, that’s what you want from your team is (going) out there competing every night and trying to find ways to win and that’s what we did.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us. LaMarcus Aldridge was a monster. He said after the game “This is one of those games where I could show my team that I wanted to lead.” What did he show you from a leadership standpoint?
Terry Stotts: A lot of things that he’s been doing all season. He’s been much more of a vocal leader this year. He’s been more vocal in the locker room, vocal in timeouts, vocal on the court. I think his leadership has shown all season. But in the game against Houston he probably showed as much leadership as I’ve seen in the timeouts when he wasn’t even in the game. The guys who were playing, he kept them engaged during timeouts, was animated on the bench and his performance on the court obviously spoke for itself.
Jim Rome: Portland head coach Terry Stotts visiting with us. As good as he was, what did you make of the performance you got from Damian Lillard in his first ever playoff game?
Terry Stotts: You know, I’ve been asked about him for two season now and the thing about Damian is that any time a question comes up, whether going back to summer league, going to exhibition season, whether he’s going to hit a rookie wall or not, he answers the bell ever time. He’s got a drive inside of him and a will to play well. He wants to be great and he wants to win. The fact he had such a terrific game in his first playoff outing really didn’t surprise me because that’s what Dame is all about.
Jim Rome: You know this guy. You live with him, you work with him, you work with him, but at the same time, I saw absolutely no fear. I saw a guy — and you can’t say this for everybody, right? — I saw a guy that wanted to be there in the moment. You’ve got your two bigs on the bench, he knew it was on him. He craved that, didn’t he? He needed that, he wanted that.
Terry Stotts: Yeah he does. I tell you, at the end of a game, he does relish the opportunity to make big plays at the end of the game or in overtime. He has a lot of confidence in himself and I think the statistics bear it out. He’s one of the best clutch performers in the league the last two years.
Jim Rome: Now Terry, there’s something that may or may not show up on the stat sheet. Let me just kind of lay this out. Chandler Parsons got off to a really, really good start and them Mo Williams apparently had a word with Nic Batum at halftime. Williams said later “I just kind of saw it in the first half that he wasn’t being aggressive. I thought Chandler Parsons was eating him for lunch. I just had to let him know at halftime because I know he’s better than that.” I’m guessing that’s not the first time that Mo Williams has done something like that for you and the team. What’s it like to have a vet like that on your roster.
Terry Stotts: Well the leadership — he’s been on 60-win teams in Cleveland. He was with the Clippers when they were good. He’s been in good situations and in tough situations and he knows the potential that this team has and the opportunities that don’t always come around throughout your career. He wants to seize the moment, not only for himself but especially for the team. We all know how important Nic is to the team and I think the best teams, I don’t want to use the word “police,” they look out for each other, they expect a lot of out each other. I think that’s an example of his leadership there.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us for another moment. Golden State won Game 1 against the Clippers on their home court, then they got beat by 40 last night. There may be a tendency for that to happen when the road team guarantees themselves a split after the first game. How do you guard against that?
Terry Stotts: You know, last night, and I told this to our team, it was two good examples of the way Houston is going to play tomorrow night. You look at how the Clippers responded after losing Game 1 and you look at how Memphis responded after losing Game 1. So those are great examples of how the previous game really sets the tone for the next game, particularly for the team that lost.
Jim Rome: Terry, let me ask you about the Hack-A-Howard strategy. I mean, that paid off big-time for you. And there seems to be a school of thought — and because I’m posing the question does not mean I subscribe to this — a school of thought that it’s just not good for the game. Where do you come out on that conversation?
Terry Stotts: You know, I’ve given that a lot of thought. And the way I look at it, the NBA played over 1,200 games this year and you can count how many times it was used in over 1,200 games. So to say it’s a bad thing for a thing that happens so infrequently, I think it’s much ado about nothing.
The second thing is — someone brought this up — it’s much like an intentional walk in baseball. You’re preventing a great hitter (from) hitting the ball, so we’re preventing a great player (from) getting close shots at the basket. But the payoff in baseball, you’re putting a runner on base. In basketball, you’re putting a guys at the free throw line. It’s up to however it pans out from that.
The other thing is, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for the game because the drama in the arena. When Dwight Howard hit those two free throws, the place erupted. They were cheering. There was a lot of energy in the building. The drama of whether to use it or not and if you use it, will he make or miss the free throws, I think it adds drama and adds interest and it’s not like it’s something that’s used very often to begin with.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us. Game 2 tomorrow night, Portland at Houston. Once again, 9:30 PM Eastern time. Terry, it’s good to visit with you. Thank you very much. Good to have you back on.
Terry Stotts: Jim, it’s always a pleasure.
Greetings from San Fransisco. After the Trail Blazers lost 118-106 to the Warriors in Game One of their Western Conference semifinal series, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, grabbed a couple mics to record the first second round edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which is now available for your afternoon listening…
On this edition, we discuss Sunday afternoon’s loss, Portland’s tough start and whether there’s anything positive to be taken from the last three quarters, dealing with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the eventual return of Stephen Curry and if there any similarities between Sunday’s game and Game One versus the Clippers. We also answer a host of questions about Allen Crabbe, the enthusiasm at Oracle Arena, the quick turnaround from Game Six to the second Game One and give some tips on packing for regular business travel. And we also start the show off with some bad Mike Meyers impersonations. Sorry about that.
Even at full strength, the Trail Blazers were having a hard time keeping up with the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their second round, best-of-seven playoff series. But that task got significantly harder after reserve guard Gerald Henderson, who is averaging 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the 2016 postseason, was ejected after a series of altercations with Warriors center Anderson Varejao that occurred late in the third quarter of Portland’s 118-106 loss Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
The first incident took place at the 3:29 mark of the third. Henderson and Varejao collided during the run of play, sending Varejao tumbling to the floor. As he was falling, he seemed to extend his leg out in an effort to trip Henderson, which ultimately proved successful. Henderson immediately got off the floor and into Varejao’s face, prompting the officials to call assess technicals to both players.
“I bumped him — not on purpose — he tripped me on purpose,” said Henderson. “I fell hard, I didn’t like it, so came together, that’s what happens.”
But that wouldn’t be the end of the tete-a-tete between Henderson and Varejao. Though Varejao was on the bench, that didn’t stop him and Henderson from continuing their less than cordial discussion, which the officials apparently noticed, as both players were once again awarded technicals, resulting in double ejections.
“The ref threw me out from across the way. I guess he could hear what I was saying from across the court,” said Henderson. “We were talking since the first technicals happened, but there’s a lot of talking going on out there. For both of us to get kicked out of the game, it was surprising.”
Despite the tense moments, Henderson said postgame that there was no lingering animosity while noting that he was more mad at himself than at Varejao.
“I been put it behind me,” said Henderson, who finished with five points and three assists in just under 17 minutes. “We lost the game, that’s the only thing that matters. I was pissed I got thrown out, we still had a chance to win the game. I got ejected, I’ve got to be smarter, regardless of if I thought I should have got kicked out or not.”
OAKLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers had roughly 36 hours to prepare for Game One of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup versus the Golden State Warriors after eliminating the Clippers in Game Six at the Moda Center on Friday night. There was only so much film they could watch, only so many Warriors-specific plays they could learn before a 12:30 pm tipoff Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
That was a reality reflected in Portland’s performance to start the game, as they made just five field goals and trailed by as many as 20 in the first quarter before going on to lose 118-106 to the top-seeded Warriors in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.
“Certainly wasn’t the start we wanted,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was disappointing to get off to such a poor start. Our offense, we had trouble scoring. Their defense got into us. It was just — we struggled at both ends, and probably more so on the offensive end, which fed into their defense. They had second chance point, they had fast-break points. It was a little bit of everything.”
The Warriors now lead the series 1-0 with Game Two scheduled for Tuesday.
“To start the game, we played like a team playing it’s second game in 30 hours,” said CJ McCollum. “We can’t start like that, especially here.”
The good news is the Trail Blazers improved as the game went on. Portland shot 52 percent from the field an 67 percent from three in the second quarter, utilizing small lineups that featured Maurice Harkless at “center” to eventually outscore Golden State 34-28 in the quarter. The Trail Blazers managed to cut the Warriors’ lead to single digits on numerous occasions before the half but were never able to keep the deficit in check for more than a possession or two, allowing the home team to take a 14-point lead into the intermission.
The Warriors, playing without reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who is sidelined with a sprained right MCL, would reestablish their dominance in the third quarter, holding Portland to 9-of-27 shooting from the field and a particularly stingy 1-of-8 from three. Between their defense and shooting 50 percent from both the field and three in the quarter, Golden State took a 26-point lead, their largest of the night, before heading into the fourth up 93-73.
Portland was able to give the final score an air of respectability by outscoring Golden State 33-25 in the fourth, but never realistically threatened the defending champs before the final buzzer. And while there was little to like about their Game One performance, the Trail Blazers can take some comfort in knowing they were able to bounce back from a rough start in the first round to win their series versus the Clippers.
“We got beat pretty soundly in Game One against the Clippers and we made some adjustments, we played a little bit better and got better as the series went along, and we need to do the same thing,” said Stotts. “So we’ll watch the video, see what we can come up with for Game Two. But there’s no question that we have to play better and learn from Game One like we did with the Clippers.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who finished with 30 points, five assists and four steals in 41 minutes. CJ McCollum added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Portland’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 13-of-43 from the field, with many of those makes coming when the game was already out of reach.
“We’ve just got to be better,” said Lillard, who said he’s been battling a chest cold the last few days (and sounded like it when answer questions postgame). “I got some looks that I need to make, CJ did as well. We just got to be better offensively if we want to have a chance against this team.”
Al-Farouq Aminu shot 6-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from three for 15 points in 25 minutes. Harkless added 10 points and three rebounds, with Mason Plumlee grabbing a game-high 13 boards.
Allen Crabbe continued his strong play as of late, going 6-of-9 from the field for 15 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Ed Davis went 5-of-6 from the field to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 18 minutes.
Gerald Henderson finished with five points and three rebounds in 16 minutes before being ejected after getting receiving two technicals for arguing with Warriors center Anderson Varejao, who was also ejected.
The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson, who shot 50 percent from both the field and three to finish with a game-high 37 points to go along with five rebounds in 37 minutes.
“We’ve got to do a better job, starting with me if I’m guarding (Thompson),” said McCollum. “Got to make sure I’m pacing better and making him curl. Hard hedges got to be there, especially if it’s Bogut or somebody setting setting that screen where he’s not really a good shooter. We’ve got to make sure we make them pay for that.”
Draymond Green put up a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes. Shaun Livingston added 12 points and with both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut finishing with 10 points.
Next up, the Trail Blazers will try to regroup before heading back to Oracle for Game Two on Tuesday.
“I got some looks that I usually would have made that I didn’t knock down,” said Lillard. “So next game, I look forward to the challenge again. At this point in the season, all that matters is winning. You either win or you lose; you advance or you go home. At this point, we’re just trying to fix things and make sure that our season keeps going.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.