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‘We Showed That This is Who We Are’



Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers are heading into the offseason with their heads held high, despite being swept in four games by the Golden State Warriors.

Lillard says his team showed the world “who they are” during their playoff run, which ended after four games in the Western Conference Finals.

Dame, playing through a rib injury since Game 2, finished with 28 points and 12 assists in the 119-117 overtime loss. Meyers Leonard added 30 ponts and 12 assists, and CJ McCollum had 26 points and 7 assists for Portland.

Per The Oregonian:

“In the past, a lot of people … didn’t really believe this was a real possibility,” Lillard said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, they’re going to make the playoffs. They’re going to make some noise. Second round. Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ But now it’s like, ‘OK, this the Western Conference finals.’ I think we’ve shown we’re capable. We can get it done. And I think our route here was as hard as anybody’s. We played the Thunder. Great team. We played Denver. A great team. It wasn’t like we just eased our way in and mistakenly got here. We earned this.

“We showed that this is who we are.”

Lillard has long said he thought the team was poised for greatness, that it had the potential to challenge for NBA Finals berths and compete for championships. And while many scoffed, dismissing his determination as stubborn and silly dreaming, it turns out he was right all along.

And, of course, it all ended with two surreal games from Meyers Leonard, who silenced seven years of doubters by helping the Blazers push the three-time NBA champions until that last-second shot in overtime fell short.

“I’m glad about the fight,” [Rodney] Hood said. “We’re resilient. We just kept fighting. We have a team full of fighters.”

Related Damian Lillard: Blazers ‘Really Confident’ vs Golden State





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Basketball

James Harden, Chris Paul Had a ‘Verbal Exchange’ Following Game 6 Loss



Chris Paul and teammate James Harden reportedly had a testy “verbal exchange” after Houston was eliminated from the postseason.

The discussion is said to have centered around the Rockets’ lack of ball distribution in the Golden State Warriors’ 118-113 Game 6 road win.

CP3 and head coach Mike D’Antoni also reportedly had clashes throughout the season about the team’s offense.

Per The Athletic:

There was something of a clash of styles brewing throughout the Rockets season, with members of the team — most notably Paul — having spirited discussions with Mike D’Antoni about the offense and pushing for more movement, league sources told The Athletic. That type of fast-paced, ball-moving offense is what D’Antoni thrived with in Phoenix, and to the two-time Coach of the Year’s credit, he has adapted it in Houston to allow Harden to succeed in his game.

But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium. The Rockets dispensed with exit interviews this year, so the media hasn’t been able to ask Paul or Harden about the disappointment.

“We can’t compare this team to last year, because we’ve had a lot of changes,” Rockets guard Eric Gordon told The Athletic in December. “More young guys, we just have to look forward to what’s next. Look how they’re playing, that’s how we used to play. Sharing the ball, getting up and down and attacking. We’re not doing that anymore.

“We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude?”

Related Rockets Owner: ‘We’re Going to Win Some Championships With James Harden’





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