Blazers' Damian Lillard on Refs in Game 3: 'Felt Like Everything We Did Was a Foul'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2021

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 27: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2021 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard criticized the officiating after the Blazers fell 120-115 to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday.

According to Bleacher Report's Sean Highkin, Lillard said:

"I felt like everything we did was a foul. Maybe some of them were fouls, but every damn thing we did, the whistle was being blown. ... It was a lot of things we could have done differently. We can't make no excuses and blame it on that.

"I'm not saying that's the reason I lost, I'm saying when they shoot that well and we fight and claw back into the game and everything we do is a foul, it's tough."

With the loss, Portland fell behind 2-1 in the series, having lost back-to-back contests.

The Blazers were called for 24 personal fouls compared to the Nuggets' 18, resulting in Denver attempting 14 more free throws.

Portland shot a better percentage from the charity stripe, going 11-of-13 (84.6 percent), but Denver benefited from the extra chances while hitting 22-of-27 (81.5 percent).

The Blazers also had some key players get into foul trouble with center Jusuf Nurkic fouling out and guard CJ McCollum ending with five fouls.

Nuggets star center and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic did a great deal of damage from the line, going 8-of-8 as part of his team-high 36 points.

Lillard was excellent in defeat, scoring a game-high 37 points to go along with five assists, two rebounds and two steals, although he ended with only two free-throw attempts.

Now down 2-1 in the series, the Blazers are in danger of getting bounced in the first round again, which has become a trend for them in recent years.

If that happens, it will mark Portland's fourth first-round exit in the past five years with a trip to the Western Conference Finals sandwiched in between.

The Blazers may be playing to save head coach Terry Stotts' job as well, so there is no shortage of incentive for Dame and Co. to turn things around regardless of how the officiating has played out.