As Expectations Increase, Trail Blazers Stay Level-Headed In The Face Of Defeat
The Trail Blazers are surprising folks left and right. Heading into this season not many expected the young, rookie-led team in a “rebuilding” year to make much noise, let alone be in the early running for a playoff seed. So now, as the wins continue to pile up and the Trail Blazers continually display their no-quit attitude, one begins to wonder if the players are feeling the growing pressure to succeed.
Coming off a huge and emotional win over the Miami Heat and a hardly-surprising loss to Golden State the day after, the Trail Blazers headed into Sunday nights contest against the Oklahoma City with confidence. They played tough right up to the end, but came up short 87-83.
With so much going right for the team recently, naturally you’d think this loss, a game they were so close to winning over the reigning Western Conference Champs, would hurt more than a loss to a different opponent.
Not the case. Though it’s not easy to accept a close loss, they’ll check it at the door as they leave and move on to their next challenge, the Denver Nuggets.
“We lost the game and now we gotta move forward. There’s teams coming up that are capable of beating us, so we gotta be ready,” Damian Lillard said. “We don’t have room to look past anyone or not be as focused going into a game, so we gotta let it go and get ready for another one.
“It’s just a loss. It was kinda emotionally draining because we put ourselves in a hole and then we come back at the end and we lose the game, so it hurts because of that, but at the end of the day it’s still one loss. It’s not like losing to them makes it two losses, it was only one loss and we gotta get ready for the next one.”
Both LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum said the loss stings, but the fact that the team fought back from a deficit moves it away from the “bad loss” category.
“We got two chance to win game, that’s tough,” Batum said. But Aldridge kept the big picture in mind when he said, “Whether they have guys or not have guys we always want to win and we gotta put ourselves in a position to win. We’ve had some worse ones [losses,] but this is definitely tough to take and home when we fight all the way back and lose like that.”
So though the emotion is there, this Trail Blazers squad knows they're exceeding their expectations and even in a somber locker room they’re keeping their chins up and plowing forward to see what else they can accomplish as the season rolls on.