New York: Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Losses, frustration mount as Trail Blazers make playoff push

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – While Damian Lillard doesn’t imagine that what’s troubling the Trail Blazers is irreparable, the truth is that point is operating out for Portland to snap out of its droop.

Portland has misplaced 5 straight video games and 9 of the final 11 to fall to seventh within the Western Conference standings, only a half-game up on Memphis. The Grizzlies simply beat the Blazers in back-to-back video games.

The Trail Blazers (32-28) have seemed out of types. They’ve fallen by two factors or fewer in 4 of their final six losses – video games the Blazers might need received up to now in “Lillard Time,” when their All-Star level guard comes up with these deep 3-pointers he’s identified for.

But Lillard‘s pictures currently have been uncharacteristically off. He air-balled a late-game 3-point try on Sunday towards the Grizzlies.

“I’m on the floor,” Lillard mentioned afterward. “That’s the best way for me to put it. I’m on the floor because I feel like that’s what gives our team the best chance to win. And I’m doing all the things to allow myself to be on the floor. So, I’ve just got to be better, man.”

Blazers coach Terry Stotts admits there’s frustration as the losses mount with simply 12 video games left.

“I think as a team we’re very together. We’re committed to winning. And we’ve come up short in some close games – which can be a test, certainly. It can be a test,” Stotts mentioned. “But I don’t think we’re caving under that. I think we come out and compete.”

Lillard has had a collection of accidents and knocks this season, however he’s usually not one to take time without work. Earlier this month, he sat for 3 video games due to a hamstring problem.

In April, he’s averaging 22.1 factors and 6.1 assists, nicely off his March averages of 29.8 factors and seven.4 assists.

“I think he’s competing,” Stotts mentioned about Lillard. “He’s missing some shots that he normally makes, but I think he’s competing.”

The Blazers were hurt by the extended absences of both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic because of injuries, but now both starters are back. Portland also added small forward Normal Powell.

Lillard said the issue wasn’t cohesion, despite all the moving parts. He said he understands that losing is hard, but he tries to preach patience to his teammates.

“You never really know when it’s going to click or when you’re going to come out of it or turn a corner. So you’ve got to make sure you keep your mind all right, and you’ve got to make sure that you’re strong enough in your heart and in your mind to deal with whatever comes with those hard times,” he said. “I think that’s been my message: We’ve got to stay with it.”

Lillard knows that it will be a fight to the finish line, just to make the playoffs. The Blazers are at Indiana on Tuesday night, before facing the Grizzlies again in Memphis on Wednesday.

“Bottom line, we just have to keep doing our work and move forward and let the chips fall. I say that understanding we have to do a lot of things better, and I have to be a lot better than I have been if we are going to do that,” Lillard said. “But it’s real adversity, I will tell you that. It’s real adversity.”


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