Wes: Frustrating to Lose Games You Felt You Deserved to Win
Denver, Colo. – Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said before the game that it usually takes your first wind to get used to the altitude in Denver and once you get your second, you should be fine.
The Trail Blazers didn't show any signs of giving way to the elevation early in the game as they scored a season-high 35 first-quarter points. However, it was towards the end of the 115-111 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets where you started to wonder if the Trail Blazers were feeling okay.
LaMarcus Aldridge hit a nine-foot jumper to tie the game at 109 with 51 seconds left in overtime. On the following possession, JaVale McGee faked as if he was going up to set a ball screen. JJ Hickson tried to beat him to the spot, something he has been doing all night.
But this time McGee stayed in the paint and Hickson was in no-man's land. Ty Lawson found McGee for the lob-dunk after McGee was yelling and flinging is arms up in the air for the ball.
“He kind of got away with a push-off,” Hickson explained. “He kind of stayed to the back of the rim, about time I figured he wasn't with me, the ball was in the air.”
That put the Nuggets up 111-109 with 39 seconds to go. Aldridge then gets fouled and nails a pair of free throws tying the game before Wilson Chandler drained a crucial three with 14 seconds left putting them up three.
The Trail Blazers called a timeout. They came out in their sideline out of bounds play. Wesley Matthews passed it in to Aldridge and received the ball back. He couldn't get a clean look and eventually Damian Lillard took a forced three that missed, giving the Trail Blazers a three-game losing streak.
According to Matthews, the sideline play was designed for Nicolas Batum to get the ball off of a curl for a three -- Ala the Cleveland game-winner, but Andre Miller jumped the pass forcing them to go to plan-B. The problem was that plan-B never materialized.
“They had a feeling where we wanted to go,” Batum said. “You have to give them credit for making a play.”
After the game Jared Jeffries said Aldridge voiced his displeasure with the way the team has been losing close games as of late.
“He basically told the team that these games are games we need to win because on down the road, you're going to lose some games you shouldn't have lost and it will be good to fall back on these wins,” Jeffries said. “It's true. That's why he's the leader. He has to say that.”
“We let these last two get away from us and we got to win tomorrow,” Aldridge said. “It's a must-have game tomorrow night.”
The Trail Blazers had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation: Lillard brought the ball down the court off of a defensive stop with 10 seconds remaining and was one-on-one with Lawson. He drove left and popped a mid-range step-back that clanked off the rim sending the game into overtime.
“I got where I wanted to get on the court, it just didn't go in,” Lillard said.
This was the first time the Trail Blazers (20-18) have lost in overtime this season. They were 5-0 in overtime up to this point.
Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets (24-16) with 25 points. Lawson had 24 points and 11 assist. Kenneth Faried gobbled up 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Aldridge played a stellar all-around game on his way to 28 points and eight rebounds. Batum added 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assist. Hickson collected his 12st double-double of the season – 19 points and 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Lillard put in 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assist. Wesley Matthews had 14 points, five rebounds and five assist.
The Trail Blazers have the Cleveland Cavaliers at home tomorrow night.