The Portland Trail Blazers comfortably defeated Oklahoma City to take a 2-0 lead in their first round series on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t without some bumps and bruises along the way.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Blazers up 107-91, Steven Adams laid out Damian Lillard with a perfectly legal screen above the three-point line. Lillard took some exception to the pick, engaging in a lengthy discussion with Adams about it during the next stoppage, but the two seemed to come to a reasonable understanding. Adams later told the media that he told Lillard it was his big’s responsibility to call out the screen, otherwise he wouldn’t have ended up sprawled out on the floor.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the incident. During Inside the NBA postgame show, Charles Barkley said that although he thought the screen was a “clean play”, he also thought it was “bush league” for Adams to do that to Lillard, and Portland should have retaliated by setting a hard screen on an Oklahoma City player.
The fact that Barkley is expressing dismay over a good screen is a bit confusing, as is the fact that he is suggesting retaliation when these two teams still have the bulk of the series to play out. At least Kenny Smith expressed his exasperation with Barkley on behalf of the viewing public.
The most remarkable part of this entire affair is that two NBA players had a long, cordial discussion about a play that knocked one of them to the ground with seemingly no hard feelings emerging afterwards. That it involved Adams and Lillard, two of the more even-keeled players in the league, is less surprising. Hopefully, the Blazers bigs do a better job of matching up in transition next game, and this matter can be put to rest.