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April 21, 2019

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Game Four

Trail Blazers - 111, Thunder - 98

BILLY DONOVAN: I thought in the first half we weathered the storm a little bit with Paul picking up fouls. We really didn't close the half very well, kind of gave them maybe some momentum going into the locker room. And then I thought in the third quarter we struggled offensively and tried to put some different guys out there, different lineups out there in the fourth. I thought those guys played hard, competed, tried to get back in the game.

Obviously we're down 3-1; all we can really do right now is watch the film, try to make some corrections and adjustments and get ready for Game 5. I mean, that's really all we can do. You know, we've got to go up there and we've got to obviously play better on both ends of the floor, and I thought our guys defensively gave really, really good effort there.

We fouled obviously late, which kind of skewed it, but I thought defensively we worked pretty good. Neither team I didn't think shot a great percentage from the field. I thought for us, we did not finish around the basket very well tonight. I thought we had a lot of stuff in and around the rim, and I thought that was obviously a big factor in the game, our inability to kind of cash in on some plays around the basket.

Q. You talk about touching the paint, guys get into the paint in order to open up the perimeter. In that third quarter I think y'all took a lot of jump shots. I think Dennis might have hit a floater and that might have been y'all's first points in the paint and it was pretty deep into the third. Why was it there were so many jump shots going up in the third quarter when y'all have success when you touch the paint and get those perimeter shots?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I don't know, I'll have to look at the film. My feeling was we were actually going downhill and there was help and we kicked the ball back out there. I think there were some threes that we took that may have been quick, but I thought for the most part we tried to play downhill, we tried to play at the basket, we tried to go to the rim. When they shut things off, I thought we did a good job of making the extra pass, and I thought we generated better shots there in the second half from behind the line.

Q. Russ's second half he had one point and 0 of 7 shooting. What did you see from him? Did you think he was maybe over-passing? Was he finding the right guys, making the right plays? How would you assess his second half?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think we didn't close the second quarter very well. I felt like he made a really, really concerted effort to try to move the basketball and try to find guys and get guys shots. I thought he got guys some shots. I thought we had a lot of, quote-unquote, pocket passes to the rim. One of the things was playing in pick-and-roll, and at times they played in the drop against certain guys, certain guys they were up on, but when we got the ball into the pocket, I just didn't think we finished a lot of plays around it, and I think when he did get downhill and they shut him off, I thought he found guys for open shots.

Q. You went small at the end; you had Jerami more or less at the 5 without Steven out there. What were you trying to get going with that group and what did you think of that look?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, we were down. I thought we needed to do something a little bit different. Lillard to McCollum in my opinion, I thought we defended as hard as you can. I thought they made a lot of tough mid-range pull-ups, which speaks to their shot-making ability. We had a couple of breakdowns on some coverages pick-and-roll wise where we gave them both from a couple of threes there in the third. That's going to happen sometimes. We got a little bit loose because those guys are kind of shifty and crafty with the ball.

But I thought defensively we worked on those guys, but those guys obviously in certain situations I thought really made shots.

Q. You kept Lillard without a basket until I think the 1:12 mark of the second quarter. At halftime were you concerned that --

Q. -- keeping him held down --

Q. -- and they have a lead on you?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, because I think the same thing happened in Game 3. You know, he and McCollum didn't really have much, and I felt like -- and I mentioned it to our guys at halftime that he was going to go out and be more aggressive just based on what happened in Game 3. We had a couple of coverages that got kind of -- we didn't get the ball directed where it needed to go, and he came off some screens and made some shots. There were some times we got him where we wanted to get him, into the mid-range, and to his credit he stepped back and made a few of those shots. I think we got McCollum off the line, the three-point line at times and he stepped back and made some tough ones, too. Those guys shot the ball from behind the line really, really efficiently and they shot the ball well inside the line really efficiently. Actually I thought Lillard going to the rim there in the end of the third, the fourth quarter, we did a good job pulling over and providing some help.

Q. Third game in a row that you guys got off to a really promising start and then Portland was able to make it interesting and eventually regain control in the middle part of the game. Has there been a consistent theme with the offensive and defensive lapses in the middle of these games?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if there's necessarily a theme. You know, I think for us, when we at times struggle to score or struggle to make shots, sometimes it gets magnified when you have a little bit of a defensive breakdown. And I think if you look at early in the game to your point of getting off to a good start, you get off to a good start because you're getting some stops and then you're making some shots, and I think when you score 22 points in a quarter, I think it was maybe two quarters in a row, the second and the third, 22 points, what's going to happen is when you're not making shots it's going to kind of really, really expose when you break down defensively, where you maybe had some breakdowns there in that first quarter but maybe it doesn't look as bad because you're scoring back at them, and I think that's what happened there to close the second. Because I think we were up by seven there and we had an opportunity to kind of close it out. And maybe not up seven but certainly had the lead, and we didn't close great, and then I thought the third quarter to start -- Paul tried, I think, getting right back into rhythm, just sitting out as much as he did. He had some looks, had some opportunities, and I thought we had some opportunities as a team. We didn't really capitalize it, and then I thought McCollum and Lillard made some shots in that quarter which really kind of extended their lead.

Q. You often mention guys not being able to control if the ball goes in the basket, but Damian Lillard and these guys, when they get those opportunities in transition they can be really deadly and make shots, so when Russell comes down and takes a pull-up jump shot, granted, it's open, but if he takes a pull-up jump shot and misses it, Damian Lillard gets out in transition. Is that the kind of shot you want Russell to take in those instances in the third quarter?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I'd have to see the exact shot you're talking about. Certainly for Russell, playing downhill, playing at the rim is what you want him to do. That's where obviously he really opens up a lot of different things. But at the same point, too, he's got to read the game. He's got to read the game and make decisions. If guys are off of him and he feels like he's in rhythm to shoot the basketball, certainly we want him to shoot the ball. So I don't know necessarily the specific play you're talking about, but a lot of times when the ball gets to the deep paint and it's kicked out, you're generating shots. Sometimes on the break, he and Paul when defenders try to like control them off the dribble, there's opportunities to pull up.

Q. Sticking with their transition threes, McCollum taking a few of those in pretty key situations in the fourth, how did you feel like you guys did scrambling back in those tough situations?
BILLY DONOVAN: I thought we scrambled back well on the ball. I thought our bigs at times or guys that were guarding their bigs were not where they needed to be, and they kind of sprung them off some screens and they were able to make some shots. We could have done a better job there. There was a couple of times where, like I said, we were in some coverages, and we didn't get the coverage and the ball under control like we needed to, and those guys just need to crack them in -- listen, the two of them are great shooters, and when those guys get any crack or space, I think you're probably surprised when the ball doesn't go in, and there were some shots that both those guys missed that they probably wished they maybe had back or felt like they should have knocked down, and then there were some times we really defended them well and they still made shots. They made a lot of mid-range, they made a lot of threes. They were efficient from the three-point line. And some of that to your point was in transition.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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