Damian Lillard after blowout loss to Warriors: “We have to play with some damn heart”

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The Portland Trail Blazers have the worst defense in the NBA. Bar none. They are allowing 110.4 points per 100 possessions this season.

So it shouldn’t be a shock that when the Portland defense ran into the powerful Golden State offense (114 points scored per 100 this season), the result was a blowout Warriors win, 135-90. Golden State went on a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter and never looked back, while the Portland offense (as it has done too much this season) devolved into guys pounding the ball and everyone else standing around and watching.

After the game, Damian Lillard called out himself and his teammates (via Chris Haynes of ESPN).

“Man, it’s OK to turn the ball over, it’s OK to make mistakes, but we have to play with some damn heart and compete out there,” he said of his teammates…

“This isn’t about what the coaches are doing, this is on us,” Lillard said to ESPN in retelling what he stated to his teammates. “We have to take responsibility for what’s going on. This s— is ridiculous. We’ve got the talent; we’ve just got to put it together consistently.”

He wasn’t alone.

“This is unacceptable, no matter who you’re playing against, champions or not,” C.J. McCollum told ESPN. “You have to be ready to play and perform and compete, and I don’t think we did any of those things today.”

Portland’s defensive slide is a little surprising. It’s not shocking because team struggled defensively last season (20th in the NBA) but they had most of the same players back in the same system. The problems with the Blazers defense is not about scheme, it’s personnel — with Lillard and McCollum they have undersized guards, and their big men are not the most mobile, so off the pick-and-roll they need to hang back to try to protect the rim. The result is the opposition having too much room to operate, and they have options on how to attack.

Portland’s defensive woes haven’t impacted the offensive end too much, but on the nights that the frustration boils over the losses can get ugly. And the Warriors frustrate a lot of teams.