Let’s start off our discussion of Thursday night's events at Moda Center with a random suggestion, OK?
In the future, if the Trail Blazers choose to play host to Maccabi Haifa in an exhibition game, why not make it a Fan Fest game? Seriously. Let the fans get this one for free and see an entire game. Haifa has now played 20 games vs. NBA teams over the last several seasons and lost them all. By an average just above 30 points per game. Obviously, this would be one of those games that season-ticket holders give to the friends who never get to see games. And they didn’t see much of a game on this night, either.
Portland won Thursday night, 104-68, holding the visitors from Israel to just four points in the fourth quarter. And the Trail Blazers played without Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside. But the other 14 players on the training camp roster all got serious playing time and the least amount of time anyone played was 8:17.
Anfernee Simons played the most and delivered as the starting point guard. Simons played 30 seconds shy of 30 minutes and hit 8 of his 15 shots, including 4 of 8 three-point shots en route to a game-high 22 points. He was aggressively looking for shots, particularly after he saw a couple in a row go in during the third quarter.
“They encourage me to keep shooting, especially if I hit like two in a row,” Simons said. “I just kind of get in the rhythm. It was fun. I think I did good, especially in the third quarter. kind of being aggressive and picking up full (court) defensively and picking up defensive intensity. That just helped us push the lead out a little bit. The thing I need to work on most is probably scoring when I’m tired. So that’s probably the one thing I’ve got to get better at.”
Simons appreciated the extended time on the floor.
“I’m working on how to be a point guard when I’m tired,” he said. “And kind of directing everybody when I’m tired. Just getting better in that area. So that was good for me.”
Simons has worked hard to become more verbal, talking to his teammates on the court and even the media afterward. It’s been noticeable, considering he’s a quiet person by nature.
“I’m not the most talkative person,” he said with a smile. “We talked more out there in the third quarter and I think it helped us out.”
The Blazers didn’t need too much help. Out-manned Haifa shot just 30.9 percent from the field and 23.3 percent from three-point range. Portland won the rebound battle 56-37, with Skal Labissiere hauling down 15 boards in 23:27.
The attendance was listed at 12,157.
Listen here for a special Trail Blazers edition of The Bridge Podcast with Kevin Calabro: