Damian Lillard: Stotts COY and LA's game
HOUSTON – If the Portland Trail Blazers seriously want to win this opening round series against the Houston Rockets, they are going to have to get more production from their bench.
“We played like sh**,” reserve Thomas Robinson said to CSNNW.com after he went one-for-four on Sunday. “It’s cool, though. We’ll be back next game.”
Robinson is referring to the seven-point outing on two-of-14 from the field that the Trail Blazers’ second unit put up in Sunday’s Game 1 overtime win over the Rockets.
Mo Williams, who averaged close to 10 points during the regular season as the team’s leading bench scorer, registered 27 minutes and was one-for-six to go with two assists. His counterpart, Jeremy Lin, played huge down the stretch for Houston, tallying 14 points on five-of-11 shooting while pulling down 6 rebounds and dishing out four assists in 34 minutes.
“I’m not caught up in the Jeremy Lin matchup,” Williams tells CSNNW.com. “It’s just about what I bring to the team. We bring two different things. I’m not caught up in the matchup, looking at the statsheet and seeing who outplayed whom. As long as we win, I’m cool.”
It’s not realistic to ask that LaMarcus Aldridge provide 46 and 18 or for Damian Lillard to duplicate 31, nine and five. Those extraordinary performances by those two nearly weren’t enough. Williams acknowledges he needs to play better but being the proven veteran that he is, he’s not overly concerned knowing he’ll have his moment.
“Offensively, I didn’t play well but we won the game,” Williams said. “Obviously if I do have a good game offensively, it gives us a lift. It takes pressure off of L.A. and Dame. They don’t have to have those big games like they did. But on games when they do play big like that, on the offensive side, I don’t hurt us as much. They’re going to make adjustments on L.A. and I know I’m going to have to be productive on the offensive end for us on Wednesday night.”
His aggressive mindset isn’t going to change. When he’s open he’s going to let that bad boy fly.
“I’m going to shoot with confidence and most likely I’m going to make it,” he said. “That’s my mentality. If I got it going I’ll be more aggressive and if not, I’ll do other things to help my team get a win.”
Portland, for the most part, is using a rotation of eight guys, which puts a lot of pressure on Williams because he’s the primary scorer of that group. If he’s having a bad game, the chances of the second unit flourishing are slim to none.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts isn’t alarmed with his bench. Teammates aren’t either. And the truth of the matter is Williams and company will play better. Portland stole Game 1 despite limited bench production.
When everybody is clicking at the same time, this team is going to be tough to beat. What was supposed to be a six-game series favoring the Rockets has rapidly vanished. It appears it’s going for the long haul. And if it does, Portland’s bench will have a part to play in that.
“Our bench did what they had to do in that game,” Robin Lopez said. “When we need them to step up, they have and I expect them to do so in these playoffs.”