LAS VEGAS – Everything was going very well for Anfernee Simons Tuesday night in Cox Pavilion. He was leading the Portland Trail Blazers in scoring with 35 points in 25 minutes, hitting six of his seven shots, and had the ball in his hands with a couple of seconds to go and his team trailing Utah by a basket. He was in position to tie the game.
But instead, he ended up in a prone position, under the Portland basket after slipping on the way to the rim on an attempt to hit a game-tying dunk or layup.
And with Simons flat on the floor, surrounded by coaches, players and trainers, that was a lot more important than the final score. The second-year guard suffered an ankle injury but was headed for further examination and unavailable for comment.
The injury was not believed serious but there was nothing official at the time of this writing.
The Trail Blazers lost the game 97-93, but Simons was the story – as he’s supposed to be. He’s being counted on to be a rotation player for Portland this season after seeing little action last year. He showed off a lot of his arsenal against the Jazz, hitting six of his seven three-point shots, 13-18 overall, and scoring on drives, a dunk off a lob and assorted other attempts.
“I thought he played really well,” summer league coach Jim Moran said. “I took him out in the first quarter and I probably should have let him go the whole quarter. I still want him to be more assertive and more vocal. Running the team, he needs to be more communicative. But overall, I think he had a really good game.”
Gary Trent Jr., coming off a game when he made seven of his eight three-point goals, saw things even out a bit, hitting 4-15 overall and 2-7 from three for 12 points.
The Blazers’ first-round pick, Nassir Little, made two of seven shots, 0-4 from three-point range and scored four points, with his college coach, Roy Williams looking on from a seat near the Portland bench.
“He’s the most explosive player I’ve ever coached,” Williams said during a halftime interview.