Chauncey Billups is fed up, and he’s not biting his tongue — not anymore. For the first time all season, the first-year head coach felt compelled to address his team after a beatdown loss to the Boston Celtics.
“For the first time all season I spoke tonight after the game,” Billups told reporters on December 4. “And it wasn’t emotional. Obviously, I’ll keep that between the team and I. I wasn’t emotional. I’m not a yeller. I was speaking with this tone, but just speaking real.”
Billups watched his Portland Trail Blazers squad in disdain on Saturday as his team dropped two games below .500 after being steamrolled by the Cs, allowing a franchise-worst 145 points. With no Damian Lillard in the lineup, the Blazers’ starting five managed just 80 of the team’s 117 points and were outscored by Celtics starters by 14 points despite Boston not having Jaylen Brown nor Al Horford at their disposal.
Billups Has Words for Starters
While Billups may not be a “yeller” by his own account, he still managed to lay into Portland’s starting unit rather harshly for their efforts.
“We’ve been making a habit of that,” Billups said, via Eurohoops. “Playing really soft at the start of the games and then we depend on our bench to kind of get us back in it. A lot of times they do. Even at halftime, I said to them, ‘I don’t understand. I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters.’ And that s*** is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around. We continue to do that. But at the end of the day, we all got to be better. I got to be better, they got to be better. We got to do it together.”
Billups Questions Blazers Pride
Portland is clearly in somewhat of a state of disarray. They’ve split their last 10 games down the middle and own a 1-10 record on the road this season. A middling franchise for much of the past decade, the organization fired general manager Neil Olshey on December 3 after an “independent investigation that determined he violated the team’s code of conduct,” via ESPN. On top of that, chatter of Lillard potentially skipping town continues to circulate.
However, Billups is simply focused on what he and his players can control, such as playing with a sense of pride and competitive nature on a game-in-game-out basis. Unfortunately for Billups, he’s beginning to question whether his current roster boasts those traits.
“That competitive fire and that pride,” Billups said. “That’s something you either have or you don’t have. And that’s not something you can turn off or turn on. That’s unfortunate. We didn’t show any of it tonight. These are young dudes, they don’t know the NBA, they don’t know the politics of the league, they don’t know the etiquette of the league. They don’t know when the game is open and a guy goes crazy… they don’t know what to do. But that’s what our vets should be teaching them. They should know. After tonight, it was embarrassing for them. And I felt like, I wasn’t worried about them. I was more worried and angry at the starters for putting them in that situation. So it’s really a starters/veteran issue. It’s not a young guys issue.”
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