In honor of Kobe Bryant Day on August 24, Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum wore a black hoodie with the date “8.24.20” to the press conference after the game on Monday night. Coincidentally, “8-24” was actually the score at one point in their Game 4 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a game they won by 20 points, The Lakers led by as many as 38 and jumped out to a big lead from the beginning. The Blazers are now down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. With his team on the brink of elimination, McCollum has a message for his teammates.
“Compete. That’s the biggest thing,” CJ McCollum said ahead of Game 5. “Give ourselves a chance to make it difficult for them defensively and offensively give ourselves a chance by not turning the ball over and giving up easy baskets.”
The Blazers gave up several easy baskets. In the first three games, the Blazers averaged a 106.4 defensive rating meaning they gave up 106.4 points per 100 possessions. In Game 4, their defensive rating declined to 135 points per 100 possessions.
It did not help that Lakers shot 56.3% from the field while the Blazers shot 44.9%.
NBA legend Charles Barkley said the game was “a total domination” by the Lakers but he still commended the Blazers for their efforts.
“I want to take my hat off to the Portland Trail Blazers. They did not quit,” Barkley said on an episode of ”Inside the NBA” after the game. “They had no chance to win that game in the second half and they competed. But I obviously I was wrong.”
Before the game, Barkley picked the Blazers to win and tie the series at 2-2. He also picked the Blazers to win the win the series before it began.
Their chances to win may have worsened. ESPN recently reported that Blazers star Damian Lillard has left the bubble to get his knee examined and will not play in Game 5.
If the season resumes after being halted due to teams’ protests, the Blazers have a fair chance to win because of their winning record without Lillard. Of the 33 games he has not played in his career, the Blazers are 17-16.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said on the teams YouTube page after the game that his team is in a tough position but they must regroup and take it one game a time.
“We know what we’re up against when you’re down to a good team 3-1, so we’ve got to battle,” Stotts said.