It almost sounds ungrateful to say it, but blowouts aren't only difficult for the team getting blown out. That's not to say that you would rather be on the losing side, and it's infinitely more gut-wrenching to lose by 30 than to win by 30, but as Brandon Roy said after the game, it's not exactly easy to keep your focus when leading by 35... in the first quarter.
Said Roy: "It's tough to play up by 40!"
Given the "difficulty" of playing with a huge lead, some might have been left wondering, given the fact that the game was seemingly in the bag by halftime, why Head Coach Nate McMillan opted to run with his regular rotation rather than putting in the end of the bench.
Part of it is that the Trail Blazers really don't have "scrubs." Everyone on the Portland roster, aside from Armon Johnson, Chris Johnson and Jarron Collins, plays consistent minutes, so it's not as though there's a full unit waiting anxiously to get into games long since decided.
But more importantly, McMillan chose to stick with his normal rotation because the team still needs to improve. And without much opportunity to practice going into the stretch run of the season, games, be they of the blowout variety or not, are the only real chance to get some rhythm.
"We wanted to use this game to continue to work, to get better and work on some things," said McMillan. "I thought the defense was really good. The pressure was good on the ball. We wanted to, since putting Wallace into the starting lineup, we wanted to look to extend our defense and trap a little bit and had an opportunity to work on that."
Roy, much like his teammates, got plenty of work in despite the result, and that's probably a good thing. After sitting out so many games, one could assume that all minutes Roy gets at this point will be helpful when it comes to rounding into post-season form. But according to Brandon, the need to get in-game reps is only helpful up to a certain point.
"It's a fine line though," said Roy of playing in the second half despite the rout being on. "It was one of them ones where I thought I got my rhythm in the first half. Second half was kinda junk out there. If (McMillan) plays me, he plays me. If he doesn't, he doesn't. Either way, I just want to try to be ready."
But the bottom line is that it doesn't matter what Coach McMillan's motivations were. As Roy so plainly explained, Coach makes the decision when it comes to playing time. Simple as that. His reasons, be they a desire to get in work, to search for rhythm or what have you, are the only reasons that matter. The decision is his and his alone.
"That's a whole quarter," said McMillan of why he left his regular rotation players in until 3:43 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. "Guys can get minutes. We're playing that game to work on our rhythm. How soon do you take them out? When is the game over?
"I'm coaching and I get them out when I want to."
There's nothing difficult to understand about that.