Portland Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews Right for Calling out His Teammates
It was another embarrassing effort by the Blazers, which saw the loudest cheer from the home fans occur in the closing minutes. As part of a promotion, Portland tried to give its fans free chalupas from Taco Bell for scoring 100 points—win or lose. They didn't get it, falling one bucket short.
After the game, the biggest story out of the locker room was Wesley Matthews calling out his teammates for their effort as the Blazers suffered their seventh straight loss by an average of 17.3 points. Portland dropped to 33-43 and was officially eliminated from the playoffs.
"I'm trying not to cuss right now," Matthews told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. "But we have to play with some damn heart. This is crazy. This is ridiculous."
Frustration boiled over even more for Matthews when reporters continued to ask the fourth-year shooting guard to elaborate.
"We have to play like this is a blessing that it is," he said. "We’re over here taking it for granted. We need to check our hearts at the door. We have six games left and we’ve lost seven in a row. We’re better than that.”
The Blazers had a similar falling out last season where they lost their last seven games and nine of their last 10. It has to be a frustrating ordeal for Matthews, who has prided himself on his work ethic but has watched the team limper to the finish line once again.
It's true, the Blazers are much better than they've played over the past couple weeks. But with the season basically over and about half the team not expected to return in the fall, the incentive just isn't there to win right now.
However, Matthews is right. Although most of the team's reserves won't be back next season, they are auditioning to stick in the NBA and should have some pride whenever they get on the court. Guys like Nolan Smith and Luke Babbitt have been huge disappointments as first-round picks, and their days appear to be numbered.
Portland has a brutal stretch to finish the season with Dallas, the L.A. Lakers and Oklahoma City next week. The Blazers wrap up the schedule with games against Denver, the L.A. Clippers and Golden State.
Finishing strong will be good for the team's psyche heading into the offseason. While it's not expected that the Blazers can win all six games against playoff teams, just showing a little competitive fire that personified the team to begin the year will go a long ways for themselves and the fans.
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