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.