Everybody is talking about Anfernee Simons' offense, but what about his defense?

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Everybody is talking about Anfernee Simons' offense, but what about his defense?

SACRAMENTO -- Trail Blazer guard Anfernee Simons is already known as an offensive weapon, a knockdown shooter, and a multiple scoring threat.

The second-year player is averaging 11.9 points, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from long distance.

But, it isn’t his shooting that’s on his brain these days.

Simons still thinks about that shot Kyrie Irving made over him last Friday night. The 20-year-old discussed how he’s been feeling about his defense thus far this season at Tuesday morning’s shootaround.  

“I think it’s been alright, except when Kyrie hit that shot on me… I’m still thinking about that one, but I think it’s been alright. I think I can get better at it,” Simons said.

Irving was able to hit a tough fadeaway jumper over Simons to put Brooklyn up five with 17.8 seconds remaining in last Friday night’s 119-115 loss to the Nets.

Simons’ defensive pressure on Irving did not go unnoticed by the Blazers floor general.

“He’s fearless,” Damian Lillard said after shootaround. “A lot of times when we talk about players being fearless, it’s like you think about taking a big shot or stepping up in that way, but, I mean, it’s just being able to go out there and compete against the best and he was lined up against one of the best, and he wasn’t afraid, and there wasn’t an option, and that’s the kind of person and player he is.”

“He’s also [been] going against me and CJ [McCollum] in practice for two years, so he’s prepared for it,” Lillard added.

The Blazers know what they have in Simons as far as offense goes, but at the other end of the floor, the coaching staff is still working with Ant to get better.

“The coaches have been telling me to make sure I continue to play defense,” Simons said.

Simons feels that he has made a leap from his Summer League defense to now.

“For sure, I think it’s just more knowing your personnel and knowing who you’re guarding I think that helps out a lot too,” Simons said.

McCollum agreed with Lillard that Simons has been “growing” on both ends this season.

“I think he’s done a great job continuing to learn – technique, spacing, you know, how close he should guard certain players, and how to really approach the game. I think he’s got a lot of practice in guarding Dame and I these last couple of years, learning a lot of tricks offensively and defensively to where it helps him kind of maneuvering screens. He’s growing daily. He’s very talented offensively, but he has the tools to be a really good defender as well,” McCollum said.

“We all guard each other so we’re constantly learning,"  McCollum added.

The Blazers are looking to keep their momentum going after Sunday night’s win over the Hawks as Portland takes on Sacramento.

Portland’s trio of guards will continue to learn about themselves as they take on a Kings team who is without their leader in De’Aaron Fox. Fox is dealing with a left ankle sprain.

The Blazers and Kings tip-off at 7pm tonight. You can watch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

Jusuf Nurkic savagely trolls Nuggets announcer with t-shirt

Jusuf Nurkic savagely trolls Nuggets announcer with t-shirt

Trail Blazers fans have gotten to see all that big man Jusuf Nurkic's fashion has to offer this season. 

Since suffering a grueling injury last season, Nurkic has been returned to the Trail Blazers sidelines to support the team. 

With that, he's had the opportunity to express himself through his clothing. 

Thursday night, in the first game that he's traveled since his injury, Nurkic made one thing very clear: He has a long memory. 

Nurk's shirt displayed a leg, pointing to a shin with text saying "Kick him in the shin."

During Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets last season, Denver radio analyst Scott Hastings grumbled that someone should "kick him in the shin" when referring to Jusuf Nurkic, who was, as Hastings describes, "playing tough guy" over on the Blazer bench. The comment was met with laughter by his radio partner Jason Kosmicki. 

With Nurkic on the road for the first time since that injury, and the game being in Denver, the timing couldn't be more perfect.

It appears the Bosnian Beast got the last laugh.  

Did Nuggets fans cheer or boo Carmelo Anthony in his return to Denver?

Did Nuggets fans cheer or boo Carmelo Anthony in his return to Denver?

It's the first time since the 10-time All-Star returned to the NBA since his one year hiatus to the city where his NBA career started. 

The question on everyone's mind, though, was how he was going to be received...

We got the answer.

Carmelo Anthony played for Denver for 7 1/2 years before being traded to New York. After going 17-65 the year prior, Melo led the Nuggets to a playoff berth in his rookie season in 2003-04. It was the Nuggets' first appearance in the playoffs since the 1994-95 season. Melo scored a total of 13,970 points while in Denver and represented the Nuggets three times in the All-Star Game.

Melo's time in Denver eventually soured when in the 2010–11 season speculation began that Anthony had requested a trade. It led to some tumultuous times before the trade to the Knicks eventually occurred in February of 2011. 

Nuggets fans were a scorned fanbase for a while. It was understandable.

However, since Melo's return to the NBA, he's received nothing but love. 

Thursday night was no different. 

Prior to the Blazers taking on the Nuggets, Melo told reporters that if there was a window in returning to Denver, he "Probably would’ve done it."

A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there. -- Carmelo Anthony

Despite the fact that he's still with another team, it appears Nuggets fans have settled their differences with Melo. 

 

Trail Blazers in action vs. Denver Nuggets for live updates

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers in action vs. Denver Nuggets for live updates

The Trail Blazers know the importance of Thursday’s contest in the Mile High City.  

As Carmelo Anthony put it, “it’s definitely an important game, being in the same conference, knowing what we’re trying to accomplish. You know those guys are coming in with a loss tonight, so I’m sure they’ll be ready in front of their home crowd. This will be a good one for us to go get on the road.”

The Trail Blazers (10-15) face the Nuggets (14-8) Thursday as they embark on a two-game road trip. We’ll have you covered! Our Trail Blazers Reporter Jamie Hudson is in Denver. You'll want to make sure you follow along on social.

How to Listen to the Game:

Catch all the action on Rip City Radio 620 with Travis Demers and Michael Holton

Quote of The Week

Damian Lillard says there is no worry about this team splintering or losing its way this season: 

“Not us,” Lillard said emphatically. “Because I think that starts at the top. We don’t have a coaching staff that wavers, where they come in here like, ‘We got to stop doing this!’ They are never negative. Some people have a hard time when you’ve struggling or losing and coming in the next day and still having the same positive attitude, while still addressing what the issues are. And our coaching staff, they do a great job of that.

Quick Links 

What a win vs. Denver can mean for the Trail Blazers' psyche 

Rodney Hood undergoes successful surgery to repair torn Achilles

Jaylen Hoard transferred to Texas Legends

VIDEO: After blowout win: "This is the team we desire to be." 

VIDEO: How Damian Lillard got his groove back 

VIDEO: HIGHLIGHT -- Blowout win over Knicks just what doctor ordered 

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

DENVER – The Trail Blazers said they are looking to keep the momentum going after Monday’s win over the Knicks.

Now as the Blazers get set to face the Nuggets on national television tonight, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Blazers All-Star point guard discussed how they need to defend Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.

I think you try to make him a scorer. It’s kind of like – not comparing him to LeBron [James]- but with LeBron you want him to be a scorer you don’t want him to be picking you apart, then scoring, and doing everything that he wants to do. Jokic, he’s a point-center, like he’s facilitating everything and making them go, making all the plays.  -- Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said at Thursday's shootaround

This season, Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

Coach Stotts added, “You try and pressure [Jokic] as much as you can. Part of it is the other four people have to not fall asleep… Don’t give up backcuts, if you fall asleep he’ll find them. So, it’s kind of a team thing.”

In the first meeting between these two, in which Denver won, Jokic got into early foul trouble. Lillard mentioned at Thursday morning’s shootaround that because the Nuggets 7-footer sat for most of the first half, he was ready to go in the final period. Lillard even smiled saying, “I almost think on opening night when they beat us, it would’ve been better for us to not have him in foul trouble because he basically rested the whole game. He came in the fourth quarter fresh.”

Coach Stotts on the other hand said he “wouldn’t subscribe” to not getting Jokic in foul trouble early.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

After trading Harkless, Portland is now only the 5th most handsome city in the USA

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USATI

After trading Harkless, Portland is now only the 5th most handsome city in the USA

Oregon is known for its breathtaking landscapes, but the men of Portland match that beauty. 

According to groominglongue.com, Portland ranks fifth in the nation for having the most handsome men. The Rose City was beat out by Seattle, WA, Maidson, WI, Boise, ID and Arlington, VA. 

We think one Blazers offseason transaction could have improved our standing. 

Remember this past offseason, when the facial beauty network at South China University used artificial intelligence to rate the attractiveness of starters in the NBA?

Former Trail Blazer Maurice Harkless was named the most attractive player in the league. 

If the Blazers hadn’t delt him in the Hassan Whiteside trade this past offseason, who knows how it could have affected Portland's standing. Having such an outlier of a man could have catapulted the city of Portland to an even higher placement on the list.

Lillard’s series clincher against OKC wasn’t made that night, but 15 years prior

Lillard’s series clincher against OKC wasn’t made that night, but 15 years prior

Dame’s a killer on the court, but you already knew that.

In the premiere episode of his new documentary series produced by Adidas Basketball Dame Time, Lillard details his iconic game winner to end the Russell Westbrook era in Oklahoma City. 

That shot was made 15 years ago. 20 years ago.

During Lillard’s high school career, he rose up late, in classic Lillard fashion, for a deep three pointer against the best team in his state. Of course, he made the shot to tie the game and he went nuts as did everyone in attendance.

Well, not everyone. 

Dame remembers seeing his father happy, but stone faced in the top corner of the arena. He expected his son to make the shot but the game wasn’t over, so he wasn’t acting like it was.

Lillard remembers that moment clearly.

I look up and see my Dad up there, and he’s just sitting there. He didn’t move at all...He did a fist pump...and it was just like ‘okay, now what?’ It was just one of those moments I was like ‘man, this dude is different.

Years later when Lillard made the game winner in Game 5 of the 2019 first round playoff series against Oklahoma City, he reacted the same way his father would have. While everyone went crazy, Lillard remained calm. Stone cold calm.

You can watch the full episode below. 

Blazers Shootaround Notebook: Nurk running stairs, Melo happy to be in Denver, & game plan vs. Jokic

Blazers Shootaround Notebook: Nurk running stairs, Melo happy to be in Denver, & game plan vs. Jokic

DENVER – As the Trail Blazers get set to face the Denver Nuggets, who have now lost five of their last six games, it’s a time for Carmelo Anthony to reflect on the place that started it all. 

It was in the 2003 NBA Draft when the Denver Nuggets selected Anthony as the third overall pick. The 10-time All-Star played for the Nuggets from 2003 to 2011.

“This means a lot,” Melo said of coming back to play in Denver.

This is where I spent my first seven and a half years here, right? So, I kind of grew up here in Denver with these people and this city. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony  

When Thursday morning’s shootaround wrapped up, Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) was seen running two sets of stairs with Trail Blazers Sports and Performance Specialist Todd Forcier.    

 

From the looks of it, Nurk's rehab is coming along nicely. As of right now there is still no official timetable on his return. This is the first road trip Nurkic has been on with the Blazers since Portland's very first trip of the season in late October. 

With the Trail Blazers looking to even the season series up at one apiece vs. the Nuggets, Damian Lillard discussed how they plan to defend point-center Nikola Jokic.

I think you try to make him a scorer. It’s kind of like – not comparing him to LeBron [James]- but with LeBron you want him to be a scorer you don’t want him to be picking you apart, then scoring, and doing everything that he wants to do. Jokic, he’s a point-center, like, he’s facilitating everything and making them go, making all the plays.  -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

“You don’t want to have him out here with 28 [points], 16 rebounds, and 14 assists because he’s capable of that. So I think just make him a scorer, try to take away the play-making,” Lillard added.

This season, Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

Portland and Denver tip-off at 7:30p.m. PT on TNT.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles and videos from the players.

Should the Blazers sign up for the Iman Shumpert free trial?

Should the Blazers sign up for the Iman Shumpert free trial?

The Brooklyn Nets have waived guard Iman Shumpert to comply with the NBA's restraint of rostering 15 players ahead of forward Wilson Chandler's return to the team. Chandler's 25-game suspension for PED usage ends on Sunday. 

Now off of a team, Shumpert still desires to play.

Shumpert has averaged 4.2 points in 18.2 minutes per game for the Nets this season. The 6-foot-5 wing can still play at an NBA level. The Nets only released him out of necessity from their guaranteed contracts limiting roster spots. 

Given his release, teams will get the opportunity to put in a waiver claim for his services. Should the Blazers?

I think yes. 

In wake of letting Aminu walk, trading Harkless, Zach Collins' dislocated shoulder and Rodney Hood’s season-ending Achilles injury, the Blazers wing rotation needs upgrading. That much is clear if the Blazers want to remain competitive in the Western Conference until Collins and Nurkic return. With Hood’s injury, Hezonja has been reinserted into the rotation, and I believe Shumpert would be an upgrade over him. 

ESPN’s Bobby Marks said the Blazers are an option to claim Shumpert but the acquisition would increase Jody Allen’s tax bill.

However, given the open roster spot and the non-guarantee on Shumpert’s deal, the Blazers could add Shumpert without hurting any future roster flexibility until Shumpert’s deal becomes guaranteed the first week of January. 

Yes, his shooting splits have been bad: 32.4 percent overall, 24.2 percent from beyond the arc and 57.1 percent from the free throw line, but he’s a low risk solution to replacing Hezonja’s minutes with a more capable player. Hezonja's shooting splits are slightly better at 36.1 percent overall, 32.3 percent from beyond the arc and 81.2 percent from the free throw line. So if Shumpert proves to be worse than Hezonja, then the Blazers can cut him before his deal guarantees in January. 

Why not sign up for Shumpert’s free trial?

Rodney Hood’s wife shares heartfelt photos post Hood’s surgery

Rodney Hood’s wife shares heartfelt photos post Hood’s surgery

In a dark, injury-riddled time for the Portland Trail Blazers and after losing Rodney Hood to a season-ending Achilles injury, there is a bright, smiling face amidst this time and that smile comes from Hood himself.

Hood's wife Richa posted a few heartfelt photos to her personal Instagram following his surgery:

Today is the day! We’d like to thank everyone who reached out and sent their well wishes. We are grateful for the outpour of love and support! He’ll be back stronger than ever! Let the journey begin! -- Richa Hood

[RELATED]: Rodney Hood undergoes successful surgery to repair torn Achilles

Hood also spoke out thanking everyone who reached out to him to wish for a speedy, healthy recovery:

[RELATED]: Rodney Hood sends heartfelt message to Rip City

Best wishes to you Rodney, and keep that smile on your face!