Royce YoungerESPN Workers AuthorShut
- Covers the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder for ESPN.com
DENVER — It was a supply of satisfaction for Damian Lillard and the Portland Path Blazers the way in which they held their composure with the officers in a heated sequence in opposition to the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.
In some methods, they consider that is why they gained the sequence. They stored their cool. They maintained their focus and targeting themselves and nobody else.
In Monday’s 121-113 Sport 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Lillard conceded that the Blazers may need gotten distracted at instances.
“I feel it was a little bit bit extra of that, most likely greater than we would have liked,” he mentioned. “Perhaps we would have liked to not say as a lot. Any time you see guys wanting it that dangerous, you are going to say stuff generally, however we’d’ve had a little bit an excessive amount of of that tonight.”
Nikola Jokic’s means as he scored 37 factors, together with going 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
After Sport Four in opposition to the Thunder, Lillard mentioned he advised his workforce to not discuss to anybody until they have been carrying black and grey jerseys, and the Blazers held true to that by means of Sport 5.
Officiating has been underneath intense scrutiny this postseason, boiling over in Sport 1 of the Western Convention semifinal sequence between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors that had each groups upset after Golden State’s win. Chris Paul was ejected with 4 seconds left. Sport officers have ejected 12 gamers from video games this postseason, equaling a report set in 1994 and 2003. The playoffs have averaged 6.three ejections in 28 seasons since ejections have been first tracked within the 1991-92 postseason. There have been solely three ejections in final yr’s playoffs.
“It was a little bit little bit of a heated sport when it got here to the whistle for us. We might say one thing when one thing wanted to be mentioned,” Lillard mentioned. “No one acquired a tech, so it wasn’t something disrespectful. However when your season is on the road, you have to be prepared to problem what’s occurring on the market and attempt to put your workforce in the perfect place to win.”
Lillard led the Blazers with 39 factors, and for a minute, it felt like a “Dame Time” second was on its means. One possession after he hit a straightaway three to chop the Nuggets’ result in 9 with 2:23 left, Lillard rolled off a excessive display some 30 toes from the basket and was clear to launch one other. Everybody within the constructing felt it; it was about to be a two-possession sport with two minutes to go, and Lillard was ticking.
As an alternative, Gary Harris stopped the clock, chasing down Lillard’s three and blocking it from behind. Two extra Jokic free throws 20 seconds later, and the Nuggets had Sport 1 in hand.
Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig and Harris — to hound him. Lillard completed with six turnovers, and the Blazers had 18 as a workforce — two areas they thought have been vital elements of their shedding Sport 1.
“That was an enormous a part of it. I do know I had six myself,” Lillard mentioned. “As a lot as I’ve the ball, I am liable for valuing possessions. On the street, in opposition to a workforce that performs a lot quicker, significantly better at dwelling, particularly once they get out in transition and shoot 3s and get the ball shifting, simply gave them too many alternatives. Twenty-three factors off turnovers, that is at all times going to harm you.”