OKLAHOMA CITY – With their starters on their way to the bench with 40 seconds left, played 4 in hand and a 3-1 series led in their pocket on the way home, Portland Trail Blazers had the opportunity to bathe in their 111-98 wins over Oklahoma City Thunder a little. But there was no one to celebrate, no junk talk, no taunting, no dunks at the buzzer. It was, as Damian Lillard said, from start to finish.
“After game 3 we were in the locker room and said that they lived on the free kick and all these things, but Game 4, we are not talking to anyone but ourselves,” says Lillard. “Judges can call it how they want to call, we will only worry about ourselves.
“After the final match, it was a big thing that was done back and forth and we were not emotional about it ̵
1; we just competed,” continued Lillard. “We were just passionate about the game as well. But as I said before, we didn’t really get in because our focus was on our team. Just as I told you, we will not come here and be crazy about the judges, we will not go out here and bring in some screaming matches and back and forth and all that. We will focus on the things we need to focus on that will give us the chance to win the game. I was proud of how our team got stuck on it. ”
Lillard, who started 0-off-6 and did not make his first shot at 1:15 in the first half, is cooked again in the third quarter, finishing with 24 points in the 7-by-19 shooter plus 8 assists. Guard CJ McCollum was critical to taking Thunder away, scoring 27 in 10-of-20 shooting, and several times both Lillard and McCollum were vocal with teammates, once advanced Zach Collins aside for an animated conversation after the second-year player was called for defensive three seconds. “” We are much more mature than we were in recent years, “McCollum said.” We can handle adversity. We understood what we wanted to do tonight and we didn’t want anything to get in the way. Several times we had discussions about not saying anything to anyone. If they don’t have a black / gray shirt, don’t talk to him. Talk to our team. Don’t talk to the criminal, don’t talk to the other team. Perform our game plan and let’s get out of here with the winnings. “
Again, Lillard and McCollum played out Thunder’s two stars, with Paul George ending with 32 points in 8-by-21 shots, while Russell Westbrook only had 14 points in 5-by-21 shots. Westbrook began to hot, hit a pair of 3-pointers early and a zipper over Lillard in the first quarter, after beating it, Westbrook stuck out his tongue and looked at the Portland bench, and he was also more limited, but it could have had more to do with not having many more chances to talk.
Damian Lillard, left and teammate CJ McCollum combined for 51 points in Joe Murphy / NBAE via Getty Images