Interview: Blazers coach McMillan

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan spoke with the media following a Saturday morning shootaround at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.

On what he told the team before the shootaround:

I wanted to show them what we did last night and talk to our guys about where we are. So, it’s not a punishment as opposed to — I think we need to look at some things here as quick as possible and communicate what I’m thinking and listen to what they’re thinking.

On the specifics of the conversation:

That’s what we’re thinking or where I’m at, what I see. And last night. So, it was a game that we felt — we had an unbelievable first quarter and then things just fell apart. And we’ve seen that in the last couple games. So, let’s talk about that.

On what the team said to him:

That’s with us. But we’re doing some good things, and then we are not finishing. And that’s part of winning games is being able to finish.

On turnovers leading to easy points:

It’s been a little bit of both. But mainly the turnovers has started a lot of it, which has led to easy baskets and easy points. Which puts a lot of pressure on you to have to stay in the game or get that momentum back when you’re giving — last night, we had 23 turnovers; that’s 23 extra possessions. And they may have capitalized on, I know, half of them. Which, in the first half, I think all of their fast-break points came from our turnovers. So we’ve got to take care of the ball. And I think we have to kind of limit who’s handling the ball. We’ve got a lot of guys who we’ve allowed to play with the ball. And maybe we need to cut that down, where we did a couple of years ago. They’re just not able to make those plays right now, and that’s putting us in a hole.

On which players are handling the ball and who could have their ability to do so limited:

Martell (Webster), Rudy (Fernandez), Greg (Oden), LaMarcus (Aldridge), (Jerryd) Bayless. All those guys have played with the ball.

It’s not just brining the ball up the floor. You’re running plays. And close outs. And transition. So, it’s a combination of that. But, as a unit — it’s not just you want to single out certain individuals — but, as a unit, we’ve got to do a better job. We’ve been in the top five the last couple years in taking care of the ball. And, right now, we’ve had 20 turnovers a few times this year.

On the team’s energy and focus:

Execution is a 48-minute thing. You’ve got to execute both ways for 48 minutes to win games. And we’ve had moments this year where that hasn’t happened. And that’s where we’ve got to get to, that’s what we’re building towards. I think with the group we have now, without Travis (Outlaw) and Nicolas (Batum) — a starter and sixth man — your margin is even smaller. Because you lose 10-12 points from Travis. Scoring with our second group, we’ve got to find a way to score the ball. Last night, I think only Rudy was scoring. So, that has been kind of the drop off, has been being able to score with the second group when we make our substitution, and taking care of the ball.

On lack of scoring production from second-unit players such as Webster, Joel Przybilla and Juwan Howard:

We need to get scoring off our bench. Our bench last year was one of the top scorers in the league. And we’ve always been a team that both units needed to play well. And we’re not getting a lot of scoring with that. Because most of our power is in the first group.

On playing without Batum and Outlaw:

It’s a different team. With Nicolas being out of the lineup. With, now, Travis being out of the lineup. And Greg (Oden) being in the lineup. We’re playing a little different than we have in the past, where we need to get Brandon (Roy) the ball and still be able to get Greg and LaMarcus involved.

On talking with the team:

If you’re doing it, it’s good. (Laughs.) Whether you agree or what. (Laughs.) If you’re doing it, it’s good. They responded.

On lack of energy:

To play at this level, you should have it. That’s not — that’s expected. That’s just expected.

Scrapping. We need to scrap. I think the sense of urgency; showing that hunger to win by scrapping. And so that has been something we’ve done, and we need to see more of it.

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