Nic Batum on his "first" triple-double
The Los Angeles Clippers shouldn't blame themselves for giving up a nine-point lead with 2:38 left in the game. They should blame the Western Conference NBA coaches.
When Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum learned he was not selected as a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team, he says it bothered him a little bit.
“It hurt a little,” Batum said after the game. “I just want to be known as one of the best small forwards in the game. But I know I just have to keep going out there proving myself and it'll eventually happen for me.”
Batum registered his second career triple-double and was the primary reason the Trail Blazers (22-21) disposed of the Clippers 101-100 at the Rose Garden, extending their winning streak to two games.
If he wasn't coming off of curls for threes, he was setting his teammates up for easy buckets while crashing the glass relentlessly. For his effort, he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists.
“I liked his matchup handling in pick-and-rolls,” Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said. “A lot of times, three-men aren't as used to defending pick and-rolls as point guards or ones and twos. So I thought that was something we could take advantage of and just change things up.”
But he wasn't just working on one side of the ball, he did it on the defensive end, too.
The Clippers (32-13) were down one with 12 seconds remaining in the game and Jamal Crawford, one of the deadliest shooters we have in this game, was working one-on-one against Batum.
Crawford dribbled the clock down and stepped into his shot with Batum drenched all over him and the shot clanked off the rim as the game ended. Batum was able to chase down the loose ball down to collect his 10th rebound, securing his triple-double.
Just five days ago, Batum got his first triple-double of his career in a 98-95 loss to the Washington Wizards. Because they lost, Batum says his triple-double didn't count.
Tonight, he's singing a different tune.
“This one definitely counted,” Batum said. “That's all I'm about is winning. When we win, I can celebrate individual accomplishments.”
Damian Lillard provided 20 points and two assists. Wesley Matthews chipped in 18 points. JJ Hickson put in 15 points and seven rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge added 12 points and six rebounds.
Batum has emerged in the minds of many as the second best small forward in the Western Conference. That's a goal he's trying to accomplish or maintain (however you see it). But I'll say this, if people keep leaving him off of teams, he's liable to put up huge numbers like tonight.
“I just have to keep playing my game and hopefully I can get in the [All-Star] game next year,” he said. “It just keeps me focused.”
In previous years, Batum has been criticized for not being tough enough or not having an edge to his game. Well, if tonight's performance doesn't dispel that myth, I don't know what will.
Batum received the game ball as you would expect. But there is some confusion to if he ever let the ball go once he grabbed the game's last rebound. In the end, it really doesn't matter because during the game, his hands were all over the ball so it only makes it right if he never lets it go.
“It's big to win this one, especially in a back-to-back with the same team twice in two nights,” Batum said. “This one was huge for us.”
Blake Griffin had a game-high 24 points to go along with eight rebounds and 10 assists while his teammate Crawford scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half.