As Friday's game in Denver went on, the Trail Blazers became more and more shorthanded.
There seemed to be plenty of frustrations seen on the player's faces after finding themselves in yet another big hole after one quarter.
It was certainly deja vu for Portland who for the second straight game allowed the Nuggets to drop 41-first-quarter points, but this time the Blazers were without Damian Lillard, who sat out the final preseason game and Anfernee Simons, who missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury.
Then when the third quarter hit -- the Blazers lost two more players.
Portland was down 82-48 when Trail Blazers forward Derrick Jones Jr. went up for an alley-oop dunk.
Jones Jr. threw down the monster dunk, but when he came down, he fell to the floor and was clearly shaken up by the play. The Blazers later announced that Jones would not return to the game with what they are calling a back contusion.
That was with 10:36 remaining in the third.
Then at the 1:06 mark of the third, Carmelo Anthony had had enough and so did the referees.
After not agreeing with the officials' no-call when Melo believed he was fouled on his putback attempt, Anthony got in the ears of the officials.
And that's when he was hit with his second technical.
The 36-year-old veteran was also whistled for a technical with 40.4 seconds remaining in the first quarter after, once again, voicing his thoughts with the officials.
So while it may have seemed that Melo was just showcasing his emotions with his team playing in two straight blowout losses, his teammate, CJ McCollum, pointed out that it was difficult to play with just two referees out on the court since one official came down with something before the game.
“It was a combination of things,” McCollum said of Melo’s technicals.
It’s never great when you only have two referees doing the game. They were put in a tough spot, tough position. One of the referees got food poisoning or something.
Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum
“So they’re not able to see everything with two people covering 94 feet, a lot of bodies moving around, a lot of situations in which it’s hard to see certain things that are happening, so frustrations can arise,” McCollum added.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts believes the ejection wasn’t just about frustrations either, but more about Melo’s competitive nature.
When you get on the court you’re competitive and whether it’s a preseason game or not… Players are out there playing hard. Frustration can happen with referees whether it’s preseason or regular season. I don’t think it’s anything to read into other than competitive nature in a basketball game.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts
As for feeling frustrated after the 129-96 preseason finale to Denver, McCollum explained that this veteran Blazers team knows what needs to be done ahead of the games that count.
“I feel okay,” McCollum added. “I’ve been in the league long enough. I think some of these guys have been in the league long enough, you know when you’re not playing great basketball and you also know that you have a short window with the way the season turned around.”