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Pressure-packed series now between Blazers, Rockets

Both say pressure is on other team for Game 4

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: April 26, 2014, 5:00pm

PORTLAND — Houston’s James Harden told the media following the Rockets overtime win in Game 3 of the Western Conference best-of-seven series that “the pressure” is on the Portland Trail Blazers now.

It appears that the Blazers feel like Harden misunderstands the meaning of expectations.

“The pressure is on us?” responded Wesley Matthews when asked about his response to Harden’s comments. “We were predicted to lose this series. Ain’t no pressure on us.”

Then, there was a pause in the media scrum before Matthews got in one more comment.

“We weren’t even supposed to be here,” as he looked around.

Nicolas Batum was also asked if he felt the pressure was now on them.

“No. The pressure will never be on us. They have huge expectations. They talk about championship. We just talk about the next game. So we good,” Batum said.

One thing that hasn’t changed following Troy Daniels’ dagger is the Blazers feelings about their play. They still felt like they played a good game Friday and being on the losing end proved to be a reminder of how close the margins in this series have been.

“I think that game did a good job of putting the whole series in perspective,” said center Robin Lopez. “Realize all of these games have been very close match-ups. It could very easily be 2-1 in favor in the Rockets, could be 3-0 in favor of the Rockets.”

The lesson they took away was something that they did better than Houston in Game’s 1 and 2: It’s the little things that make a huge difference.

“It really comes down to a few plays in each game and we watched a lot of film today and we’re going to come out with a lot more energy in the first quarter,” Lopez said.

Added Matthews: “The little stuff. They shot 15 more times than we did and we still had a chance to win the game. It’s hard to overcome that. It’s only us to blame.”

Blazers coach Terry Stotts does feel like the Blazers must clean up on the glass, where Houston has dominated in the first three games.

“The guards do a good job of crashing. It came from different areas,” Stotts said. “Some of it because we’re going to help, some of it because we didn’t block out as well as we needed to.”

Houston currently has the the best offensive rebound rate among playoff teams through three games and they’ve needed it with an effective field goal percentage (which accounts for 3-pointers) in the bottom five among playoff teams.

Dorell Wright knows the Blazers must have a short memory and remain focused on playing a complete game.

“It’s the playoffs, you got to have a short memory. We lost the game on a 50-50 ball. Mo (Williams) and Jeremy Lin going after the ball, Mo got tripped up a little bit and Lin made the great read of spying a shooter and that’s what it’s all about. You got to play a 48-minute game.”

“We’ll be ready,” Stotts said. “We’ll be ready to play tomorrow. We weren’t going to go 16-0 (in the playoffs).”

Columbian Trail Blazers Writer