On Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers suffered the first significant setback of the 2021/22 NBA season. In a season with enormous pressure for them, they faced one of their biggest rivals in the past two seasons: the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tyronn Lue's squad made life hard for their rivals, taking them off the court with a 126-86 win at Staples Center. It was a collective effort from the Clips, who recorded their first win of the season. Luke Kennard showed up with 23 points while Paul George added 16 points and a career-high eight steals to help his side.
On the other end, the Blazers looked nothing like a championship contender team. They failed to return from a 14-point deficit in the 1st quarter, losing the game by 30 points.
After the match, head coach Chauncey Billups expressed his frustration with the team, criticizing their effort, calling it 'embarrassing.'
"It was really embarrassing," Billups told reporters, via The Score. "Just the effort. I don't think that we started the game off with the right mindset. ... From the very first play of the game, we turned the ball over. We couldn't get the ball where we needed it to go
"Their pressure really hurt us, and it just continued to snowball the rest of the way. It's tough to compete in a game when you have 30 turnovers."
The Trail Blazers turned the ball over 30 times, and the Clippers took advantage of that, scoring 29 points off those mistakes. They need to do better if they aspire to make it to the playoff next year.
This is Billups' first season at the team's helm, and things haven't started that well. Damian Lillard is struggling to find his touch. He's shooting 8.3% from the 3-point line and 34.0% overall, which is not good news for this team.
It seems like they have plenty of things to work out before competing for important things in the league. The Blazers are under pressure now as the rest of the league keeps an eye on Damian Lillard. Several people around the association believe the player will be available in trade talks if they fail to compete in this campaign.
Chauncey didn't land in a team with a solid situation. He's trying to build something there, but nothing assures that Dame will stay at Moda Center beyond this season.