Terry Stotts admitted he was disappointed the Trail Blazers didn't close out the Houston Rockets earlier, affording his core players some much-needed extra rest before the most important two-game stretch of the season.
Still, after winning his 400th game on the Portland sidelines – joining the late, great Hall-of-Famer Jack Ramsey as the only coaches in franchise history to reach that threshold – Stotts couldn't help but cop to the gravity of his accomplishment.
"It's special," he said of winning 400 games. "Not a lot of coaches are able to be with a franchise long enough to win 400 games. Its' been a great nine years. Our work's not done this year. But to get 400 is pretty special."
Moments earlier, in the postgame locker room, the Blazers presented Stotts not just with the game ball, but a custom plaque commemorating his achievement.
It's easy to dismiss now that Portland is in the thick of a heated postseason race, fighting like hell to avoid falling back to seventh place with hopes of jumping up to fifth. But just more than two weeks ago, all momentum seemed to be pointing away from Stotts earning his 400th win this season.
Did anyone really expect the 32-28 Blazers, sinking to a new nadir with a second straight loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on April 25, to get the eight more wins they needed in the regular season for Stotts' 400th victory? An 8-4 finish seemed highly improbable back then, and multiple subsequent reports of Portland planning to move on from Stotts after this season made it appear impossible.
But the Blazers stayed the course, locking back in for a season-saving run that Stotts, remember, hinted he saw coming during his team's April struggles. For all the handwringing about Portland's mounting losses, four of them came by a single possession, backing up Stotts' optimistic assessment of his team's performance.
To say Stotts saw this coming is giving him a bit too much credit. But the steady hand he provides the Blazers' locker room looms largest in times of strife. Some coaches would have been too frantic to help lift Portland from its prior depths.
Just like it has for nearly a decade, though, Stotts' calming presence and commitment to the process made a difference for the Blazers when they needed stability most – yet another testament to his success roaming Portland's sidelines.