THE fact the Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on the weekend is unremarkable, at best.
Golden State owns the best record in the league and Portland entered the contest with a 5-11 road record, while being two games under .500 on the season overall.
But the way the Blazers lost is definitely cause for concern.
The Warriors led by 19 points at the end of the first quarter, and Portland put up little resistance the rest of the way, which led to a final score of 135-90 that can only be described as a humiliating result. And Damian Lillard was very direct in ripping the effort of his teammates afterwards.
“Man, it’s OK to turn the ball over, it’s OK to make mistakes, but we have to play with some damn heart and compete out there,” told ESPN.
“This isn’t about what the coaches are doing, this is on us,” added Lillard, while retelling what he stated to his teammates. “We have to take responsibility for what’s going on. This s*** is ridiculous. We’ve got the talent; we’ve just got to put it together consistently.”
It’s inexcusable for an NBA team to lose by that many points, even to these Warriors. But the fact that the Blazers are struggling this season shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Portland overachieved last year by finishing with the fifth-best record in the West, but only reached the second round of the playoffs because both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were lost with injuries in the middle of their first-round matchup. The Blazers’ only real free-agent addition was Evan Turner, who laughed at the contract offer he received from Portland because of how ridiculous it was.
The best teams in the West got better, while the Blazers essentially stood pat. The losing is likely to continue against the league’s elite teams, but Lillard was right in calling out his teammates, because at the professional level, it should never happen like this.
The Warriors extended their winning streak to four games after defeating the New York Knicks 103-90 two days earlier.
The Knicks essentially had no chance of beating the Warriors in Oakland once both Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were ruled out due to injury, but whatever shot they had of making it competitive went completely out the window once Draymond Green received some additional motivation courtesy of Kristaps Porzingis.
A day before Thursday’s contest, Porzingis was asked about his poor performance against Green the previous season, where he shot just 4-of-19 from the field combined.
“I want to go out there. Last season, right after the game was over I was thinking when was the next time we were going to get a chance to play against them,” Porzingis told the New York Post. “I’m ready for him.”
That wasn’t much, but it was enough for Green to take the remarks as a perceived slight. “My Nike rep, Adrian (Stelly), showed me something on the sideline like two minutes right before the game tipped off that kind of pissed me off and made me want to go a little harder this game and guard him,” Green told ESPN. “So, it was good. I appreciate him for showing me that because I think I was in La-la Land before he showed me that and it just immediately pissed me off.”
Porzingis finished with just eight points on 4-of-13 shooting with two turnovers, in a game the Warriors led by as many as 25 points.