The Trail Blazers lost for the fourth time in five games. They still haven't beaten a winning team since March 21st, and are another step closer toward falling to seventh-place in the Western Conference – risking fate of the play-in tournament.
Don't tell Portland moral victories don't exist in professional sports, though. A pair of future Hall-of-Famers clearly believe otherwise.
After his team's hard-fought 116-115 loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, Damian Lillard stressed optimism about the Blazers' performance, and what it portends for the season's remainder.
"They earned the win, but like I said before I thought we played a good game," he said. "I think moving forward our mentality and our focus, the way it was tonight, you can tell that everybody's head was on having a better performance, putting a better product on the floor."
A more popular way of getting Lillard's point across in NBA vernacular? Process matters more than results, and Portland's process was as promising as its been against a quality opponent in weeks.
Carmelo Anthony, no stranger to in-season turmoil across his 18 seasons in the NBA, agreed with Lillard.
"We fought tonight. We showed a different fight than we've been showing over the last couple games," he said. "Tonight was a different game. We showed what we can be as a team, what we can do as a team, and we came up short tonight. So there's no need to hang our head over this one."
You've heard the old adage before: It's a make-or-miss league. Lillard missed an open, step-back 20-footer with just over 30 seconds left that would have put Portland up one, and Jayson Tatum made a dagger pull-up triple the following possession, effectively putting the Blazers away.
One lucky bounce could have proven the difference to the outcome of Tuesday's game. Fortunately for the Blazers, their team leaders seem to know it, emphasizing the progress Portland needs to hear to get out of its funk.