It was the 19-year-old Anfernee Simons who led Portland to a thrilling 136-131 comeback win over the Kings after the Trail Blazers were down by as many as 28 points in the second quarter in the last regular season game of 2019.
This game was not only wild all on its own, it also had crazy playoff implications.
Christian, you could make a lot of money on this game…
With homecourt advantage already clinched for Portland, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts rested his starters and played guys who rarely saw major minutes.
It was also Fan Appreciation night as Trail Blazers fans were able to get a glimpse at the future.
During the starting lineup introductions, fans gave the Blazers rookies the most love with the loudest applause.
[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.]
So, just to jog your memory: Because Portland defeated Sacramento in this game on April 10, 2019 and then Denver also beat Minnesota that night, the Trail Blazers then finished the season as the third seed and thus faced the six-seeded Thunder. (The rest is history with that waving-good series.)
But, the chances of playing the Jazz were much higher than playing OKC earlier in the night when both the Blazers and Nuggets were down by double digits in the first half of their games.
Re-watching this Trail Blazers Classic Game Sunday night, it was fun to see Portland’s young squad get so much run and to see some familiar faces who are no longer in a Trail Blazers uni.
Ugh, I miss that team...I miss our current team...I just miss our Blazers! 😥❤️❤️— Kimmyann (@kimmyann1111) June 15, 2020
The Blazers were down by 25 at halftime, but Portland won while using just six players behind Anfernee Simons’ career-high 37 points.
Simons averaged 3.8 points in 7.1 minutes per game his rookie season.
In his first career start, Simons not only finished with 37 points, he connected on seven three-point field goals and added six rebounds. He also played all 48 minutes as did Gary Trent Jr. and Jake Layman who each scored 19 points apiece.
During Simons’ two years in the league, Damian Lillard has taken the young guard under his wing. During the 2019 regular-season finale, Simons listened to his mentor’s advice.
Dame told me to be aggressive the whole game, so that’s what I did. -- Anfernee Simons said postgame
Skal Labissiere finished with 15 rebounds and scored 29, while Meyers Leonard added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Simons also dished out nine assists on the night. One of which was this beautiful outlet pass to Leonard:
Leonard made sure to give props once again to Simons for rewarding Meyers for running the floor.
GREAT pass young fella!!— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) June 15, 2020
Leonard also acknowledged that this game had plenty of hammer opportunities.
🤝🔨— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) June 15, 2020
The only other Trail Blazer who played was Zach Collins, who scored 13 points in the 13 minutes.