Chicago Bulls

Anfernee Simons is learning from his shooting woes, knows it's part of the game

Anfernee Simons is learning from his shooting woes, knows it's part of the game

It was a team effort on Friday night, as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Chicago Bulls for the second time in five days. 

But, really it was a group effort by the starters-- at least on offense.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts made note of that postgame, “from our starters tonight, offensively Rodney (Hood), Melo (Carmelo Anthony), CJ (McCollum), Dame (Damian Lillard), all of them were very good offensively, and then Hassan (Whiteside) was just exceptional in the paint; defense, rebounding, blocking shots. So those five guys played really well, not to say the bench didn’t play well, but those five guys really stood out obviously.”

Portland’s starting five combined to score 98 of the Blazers’ 107 total points on Friday night.

While the Blazers got the win, the Bulls bench outscored Portland’s second unit, 25-9.

But, Blazers back-up guard Anfernee Simons, who scored just one point in the winning effort, believes that he and the other guys coming off the bench were still doing what was asked of them.

“I think we were moving the ball pretty well. We just kind of sticking to what helps us win it. So whatever the second unit has to do to help win, either it’s just move the ball, get good shots, play defense, that’s what we’re going to do,” Simons said.

After starting the month of November shooting 27-of-55 (49.1 percent) through the first five games of the month, while averaging 15.8 points, Simons has cooled off considerably.

In his last 10 games, he is shooting 34.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three, while averaging 8.6 points per game.

Call it a slump, call it a rough shooting patch, call it whatever you like, but for the young second-year player he knows that this is all part of being an NBA player.

“It’s all a learning process. I gotta keep working and keep trying to learn and continue to grow as a player. I think I’ve just got to continue to stay positive and keep wanting to be great, and wanting to be the best player I can be.”

What is his teammates advice during this rough stretch?

Stick with it.

Simons said, “They’re just telling me to keep being aggressive.”

He also acknowledged that he knows going through a rough shooting stretch is part of being an NBA player, especially as such a young player.

“It’s my first real time playing. It’s almost like I’m a rookie playing out there, so obviously I’ve known, I’ve been here, but it’s not the same as playing. So I’m just going to take it game-by-game.”

This season, the Blazers have now hit their 20th game played and Simons has played in every one of them. Last season, as a rookie, Simons played in 20 games TOTAL, averaging just over seven minutes per game.

‘Taking it game-by-game” is something Simons has learned from watching his teammates go through similar situations.  

For a veteran shooter like Rodney Hood, he isn’t worried about Simons and says Simons shouldn’t worry about a slump either.

Everyone goes through it. 

“It’s part of it,” Hood said. “Ant is probably one of the better shooters on this team. We have full confidence in him as an offensive player. He’s doing the little things, which I love. When you’re in a slump, I know I’ve been through slumps, everybody is gonna go through slumps at some point during the season, you’ve got to continue to focus on the other things. He’s been rebounding, he’s been trying to defend, doing other things.”

Hood reiterated that Simons’ teammates aren’t at all concerned about the 20-year-old’s current shooting woes.

“As far as him scoring the ball, we never worry about that with Ant. We’re going to continue to let him grind through it and once he gets back going, he’ll pick up where he left." 

Simons will have a couple of days to get back in the groove as the Blazers don't play until Tuesday in Los Angeles vs. the Clippers. 

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Bulls

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Bulls

For the second time in five days the Blazers faced off against the Chicago Bulls. While the venue may have been different, the result was the same. 

On the back of a record-breaking performance from Hassan Whiteside, the Blazers came out victorious. 

The Blazers offense has been humming recently, but it was Whiteside and the defense that won this one. Whiteside had the painted area on lockdown from the jump. He recorded four blocks in the first quarter alone, and he wasn't anywhere close to being done. 

Time after time the Bulls attacked the rim, and time after time Whiteside sent the shot flying. Late in the fourth quarter, Lauri Markkanen went up for a layup only to have Whiteside send it back. It was Whiteside's tenth block of the game, setting a Trail Blazers single-game franchise record. Whiteside only had eight points on the night, be he still recorded a double-double (15 rebounds, 10 blocks)... He wasn't the only one. 

Carmelo Anthony continued his recent hot streak, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 boards, recording his first double-double as a Blazer.

It got close late, but it was once again Hassan Whiteside that made the big play to seal the deal. 

Final score in this one: Blazers 107 - Bulls 103. 

QUOTABLES:

Coach Stotts on Hassan Whiteside:

He set the tone early, he got some blocks early, but Chicago really drives it hard to the basket, so they kept going in there and he kept standing up and holding his ground. Especially being able to do it in foul trouble, he got four early in the second half, got his fifth and played through it, it didn’t keep him from having the same impact

Damian Lillard on Rodney Hood:

I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about Hoodie this season is it hasn’t even been how well he’s shooting the ball or what he’s doing offensively, it’s been how much more vocal he’s been. He’s been really vocal in huddles, coming on to the court, on the floor he’s vocal. I think where we are as a team, it can’t be one or two guys, it has to be everybody kind of saying what they need to say and pitching in that way. He’s been really vocal, how locked in he’s been has been big for our team

Rodney Hood on his success shooting the ball this season:

Just putting in work, just playing off of other guys. With Dame and CJ and Melo, I get a lot of open looks, a lot of opportunities to just get my feet right. I’ve been focusing on that the past – well ever since the beginning of the season – just continue to work the reps, put in the work and just trust it when I get in there

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Melo on Whiteside: 'That's special knowing he's holding down the paint like that' 

TALKIN' BLAZERS PODCAST

The latest episode of the Talkin' Blazers Podcast with Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon. 

 

 

 

 

 

Rodney Hood 'locked in' and 'able to contribute even more'

Rodney Hood 'locked in' and 'able to contribute even more'

Mr. Comfortable? What about Mr. Confident? Or, is Mr. Consistent more fitting?

All three names could easily describe Trail Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood this season.

In the Trail Blazers 107-103 victory over the Bulls on Friday night, Hood was extremely effective both from long distance and with his midrange game.

The six-year veteran has become the go-to guy to knockdown a corner three for the Blazers this season. Whether it’s Damain Lillard, CJ McCollum, or now Carmelo Anthony kicking it out to Hood, his teammates are finding him.

Hood finished with 19 points on an efficient 7-for-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from long range on a night where the Blazers as a team struggled from three.

“He would be the first to say that his teammates are doing a good job,” Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said postgame. “His threes have been pretty open on weakside swings, so I think he’s been in good position.”

And Coach Stotts was right. Hood gave credit to his teammates for kicking it out to him.

“The trust has just grown between, Dame, CJ, and myself, even with Melo, he hit me with a couple on the weakside. Guys really trusting guys to knock down shots and not going up against two other three guys, they’re really trusting guys on the weakside,” Hood said.

It’s clear the Blazers have come to rely on Hood’s scoring at a consistent rate. In his last ten games, he is averaging 57.5 percent from the floor and 51.7 percent from deep.

But Coach Stotts hasn’t just been pleased with his efficient shooting.

“He’s a very skilled player,” Stotts continued. “He spots up threes, goes one-on-one to take a smaller guy to the block, he usually takes the toughest perimeter defensive assignment every night, so you know the hope was when he came back, after only being with us for a short time last year that he would feel more comfortable and be able to contribute even more.”

Now, let’s talk more about Mr. Consistent on the offensive end.

Hood is currently shooting 50.8 percent from three-point range. That ranks him second in the league only behind Marcus Morris’ 52.4 percent.

Putting in a summer of work is what Hood attributes his hot shooting to this season.

“I felt like I could always shoot the ball, but this summer I really wanted to focus on particularly shooting off the catch. It was something I felt like I could make a strength and I knew I’d get a lot of open opportunities playing with these guys,” Hood said.

Alright, but maybe it is Mr. Confident since Hood mentioned that postgame:

“You’ve just got to shoot it with confidence regardless if you make it or miss it. You’ve just gotta continue to be aggressive because if those guys pass it to you [in the corner], it’s an automatic you have to shoot the ball. I’ve just been putting in the work and right now it’s good. If I go through a slump, I still gotta step up and shoot it.”

There are many nicknames for Hood that are fitting at the moment, but ‘Hoodie’ is just going to take his open opportunities because that is the role he has been given, and that’s the role he has willingly accepted.  

Melo on Whiteside: 'That's special knowing he's holding down the paint like that'

Melo on Whiteside: 'That's special knowing he's holding down the paint like that'

Hassan Whiteside had just topped off a terrific night at the defensive end of the court by converting a putback basket with 8.8 seconds to play that gave the Trail Blazers a four-point lead and pretty much ensured a win over the Chicago Bulls Friday night in Moda Center.

And he hadn’t even gotten to midcourt after a Chicago timeout before Carmelo Anthony stopped him and had a few words with him.

What did he say?

“That’s what we need. Big play, big boy,” Whiteside said after the game.

Anthony adds so much to this team. He knows his team needs Whiteside to play big and perform in the middle and wanted to reinforce a great performance,

“Hassan had a hell of a game down there anchoring us,” Anthony said. So he told Whiteside, “’Sometimes that’s what we’re going to need. To do that.' We know whose hands the ball is going to be in at the end of the game – Dame and CJ. Everybody else has to find some other ways to get wins. We won the game tonight with that tip-in.

“That’s special to know he’s holding the paint down like that. Ten or 11 blocks and rebounding the way he’s doing. We are going to continue to need that,

“I’ve never seen that before and I’ve played with some great shotblockers. Tyson Chandler was a great shotblocker. Marcus Camby was a great shotblocker. But I’ve NEVER seen a guy get 10 blocked shots in a game.”

So, it was important to make sure he gave credit where – and when – credit was due.

“I think you have to praise people in times right at that moment. Don’t wait until you get to the locker room. We all need encouragement at times. We’re going to need that from him. If he can get down there and win games with a putback like that, it means a lot.”

The Bulls play a drive-and-kick game and opened the game challenging Whiteside at the rim. Obviously, he met that challenge head-on – he had four blocks in the first quarter and six by halftime.

“Those are my favorite teams, teams that just want to attack me,” he said. “There are two kinds of teams, those who avoid me at all costs and the ones that attack me. I love it.”

Whiteside he told his teammates not to get too aggressive on players driving to the basket.

“Guys weren’t fouling on layups,” he said. “I told the guys, I’m insurance. When they go for a layup, I’m going to be there. I might not get them all, but I’m going to do my best.”

At the end of the night he finished with 15 rebounds, a steal and eight points to go with the 10 blocks. He had a rough shooting night or he would have had his fifth career triple-double. He missed all three of his free throws, which is shocking because he’s been near 80 percent at the line for a good part of this season, and was 4-11 from the floor.

The Blazers got all but nine of their points from their starters, as the Portland bench was outscored 25-9. The Blazer reserves were just 3-13 from the field and missed all six three-pointers they took.

Anthony had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Rodney Hood scored 19 while McCollum and Lillard combined for 48. Lillard put this game in Whiteside’s win column.

“I mean, he had a great, great defensive performance,” Lillard said. “I thought it was pretty much the difference in the game for us. If they didn’t change, he probably would have blocked 15. But that’s the version of him that we need to be the team that we planned on being at the start of the year.

“I think he played like he was trying to impact the game in the way that we know he can. I think it was obvious to everybody. He was blocking floaters – that's a tough shot to block and he's getting to floaters. He’s coming from the weak side, vertically. He did it in every way you could think of for a rim protector. That was big time,”

Portland won its third straight game – the first three-game win streak of the season and had 20 assists, the ninth straight game of at least 20.

Whiteside's 10 blocks broke the team record of nine, held by Bill Walton, Theo Ratliff, Mychal Thompson and Joel Przybilla.

 

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Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

Instant Analysis: It was an Hassan Whiteside block party Friday night!

Instant Analysis: It was an Hassan Whiteside block party Friday night!

Despite the slow start and poor shooting from three for most of the night, Portland was still able to get the job done versus the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

After starting off Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder hitting their first 10 shots, it was quite the opposite start for Portland on Friday. The Trail Blazers hit just two of their first 10 shots against the Bulls.

Portland recovered from its slow start; however, the Bulls kept up with the Blazers all night in big thanks to Chicago forcing costly turnovers, and, thanks to their leading scoring Zach LaVine.


FINAL BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 107, Bulls 103

Here are three quick takeaways from Friday’s win:

1. Melo Magic

Carmelo Anthony entered the fourth quarter with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds (his first double-double of the season). But, it was in the fourth quarter that the Melo Magic came alive once again. At the 7:26 mark of the fourth quarter after an Hassan Whiteside block at one end, Anthony came down and hit a big-time three-pointer to put the Blazers up seven. Between Melo’s scoring flurry in the fourth and Damian Lillard hitting from deep late, Portland was able to secure a victory.

2. Whiteside made the Bulls think twice

Chicago started off the game attacking the rim hard, but with little result. Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside had four blocks in his first nine-minute stint. After Whiteside swatted his sixth block on the night, it would’ve seemed the Bulls would have figured out that they had to be more aware of Whiteside's length. But that wasn’t the case. Whiteside finished with 10 blocks, which is a new franchise record.   

3.  Consistent Hoodie

When the Blazers have had trouble scoring they’ve been able to really rely on Rodney Hood as of late. During the Blazers' two-game winning streak, Hood has continued his consistent shooting. Against the Bulls on Friday, Hood was effective both from long distance and with his midrange game. Hood has become the go-to guy to knockdown a corner three.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers will take a quick trip down to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Tuesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Check back here throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, reactions and videos from the locker room!

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Melo makes it easy to build team chemistry

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Melo makes it easy to build team chemistry

Before Portland and Chicago tip-off at 7:00 p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App, Trail Blazers Coach Terry Stotts spoke with the media to give updates on how he’s been working the playbook in with Carmelo Anthony, how it’s helpful that the Blazers just played the Bulls earlier this week and more.

The Blazers are riding a two-game winning streak after starting off the week with a 117-94 win over the Bulls on Monday night in Chicago.

“It’s more of a review,” Coach Stotts said of going over Chicago’s plays and tendencies at shootaround this morning.

Stotts also mentioned he thinks, “with Melo it’s easy to develop chemistry... I think Melo has found his niche… He’s a smart basketball player.”

The Blazers have been working in a few plays at a time, rather than throwing too many sets at Anthony. Since the Blazers have three days in between their next game, Coach Stotts said he will take time this weekend at practice to continue to have teaching moments with Melo.   

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

Injury Update: Per Blazers, Gary Trent Jr. (right hamstring strain) is out for tonight’s game vs. Chicago.

How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Bulls tonight at 7pm

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USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Bulls tonight at 7pm

The Portland Trail Blazers (7-12) host the Chicago Bulls (6-13) on Friday night as the Blazers look to continue their winning ways.

Carmelo Anthony made his home debut on Wednesday as the Blazers defeated the Thunder 136-119. Melo finished with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and Portland won its second straight game.

The Blazers are about to have a more favorable schedule in the month of December. Which means it’s time to take care of business against teams they should beat and at least break even with the others.

You can watch the Blazers and Bulls 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!

Also, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Bulls

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

And, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

QUOTABLE

“I think, man, we’re just coming together. Guys are getting healthy, guys are getting back in the lineup, and I think we’re starting to build some chemistry, and getting stops, and offensively it’s coming along.” Hassan Whiteside on the Blazers finding their groove after Wednesday’s win

 

Could one play from Damian Lillard turn the season around? We’re going to find out…

Could one play from Damian Lillard turn the season around? We’re going to find out…

CHICAGO – In an instant, the ball can be turned over.  

In an 82-game season, things in the NBA can turn around in the blink of an eye.

So, how does one calculate a potentially season-changing play that lasted a total of seven seconds?

Monday night in Chicago was one to remember for the Trail Blazers.

It was the night Carmelo Anthony got his groove back. It was the night the Blazers got a healthy Hassan Whiteside back, too.

It was one where Portland ended its four game losing streak with a 117-94 blowout victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Trail Blazers were rebounding (finally), shooting the ball well, communicating on defense; it was all there for the Blazers.

As CJ McCollum put it, “This was probably our most complete game of the season, and also, probably the first time we’ve had a lot of healthy people in the starting lineup. I think that made a difference and we’ve just got to continue to build on that.”

Point guard Damian Lillard wants his teammates to continue to build on the energy that showed on Monday night.

“This type of effort is what we’re gonna need, especially if we can get it form so many guys I think we can end up on the winning side, just like tonight.”

But this question remains:

Was it a night that Lillard will point to on a specific play that was a turning point in the Blazers season?

At the 5:03 mark of the third quarter, Zach LaVine stole the ball from Lillard.  

Then just seven seconds later, Lillard snatches the ball back from LaVine at the other end after LaVine attempted to pass the ball to Lauri Markkanen.

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard showed his grit, determination, and his competitive nature within a matter of seconds. He wanted it. 

That third-quarter play by Lillard may have been the Bulls’ momentum killer.

Lillard knew one thing for certain after the game. That play had major significance:

In a lot of our games this season, teams, like we’ve talked about, they get offensive rebounds, they get fifty-fifty balls, they beat us to it… Sometimes it comes down to just competing, and having that desire, just really wanting it more than the other team. I think as soon as I threw the turnover, I didn’t think about the turnover. I was like -- the play is over, sprinting back, make a play on the ball, just try to make something happen and show them that everything that they get tonight is going to be hard.

That steal led to Lillard finding Hassan Whiteside for a layup, putting the Blazers up 79-64. It was total shift back in Portland's favor.       

That play is what Lillard believes the Blazers need more of, and should consider those types of plays season changing.

 That’s a really big play for our team that we don’t make enough of. So, I think that’s what I was just like – this is what we need to happen, this is how we turn our season around.

In Monday’s win, Lillard finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 assists.

But, with two steals on the night, it’s that one particular change of possession that happened in the blink of an eye in which Lillard and the entire Blazers team will continue to look back on. They will continue to try to emulate to turn their 82-game, 175 day regular season around knowing that it can turn around in mere seconds, with a flip of the switch, or in this case, the flip of a ball.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win in Chicago

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win in Chicago

The losing steak is no more! The Portland Trail Blazers took on the Chicago Bulls in the final game of a six-game road trip, and a rejuvenated Blazers squad took care of business. 

For the first time since Carmelo Anthony made his Blazers debut, Portland was healthy and got to roll out its normal starting five. Hassan Whiteside brought the energy and effort on the glass the Blazers sorely needed, and the rest of the starters cooked all night long... but none more than Melo. 

Anthony turned back the clock for a vintage performance. He dropped 25 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and had the entire squad throwing three to the dome.

On the back of Melo, the Blazers cruised to a 117-94 victory over the Bulls, ending the team's season-long four-game losing streak. 

QUOTABLES:

Carmelo Anthony on having support from this family:

Anytime I can get that support, especially with the situation I'm in now leaving my family back in New York and going five, six hours away... anytime you get that support it means a lot.

Hassan Whiteside on getting back on the court:

I felt great coming back out there-- and just playing with these guys. It’s my first time playing with Dame and Melo at the same time, so it was definitely a great feeling.

Terry Stotts on Carmelo Anthony's big game:

All of his teammates have a lot of respect for what he’s done in his career. They’re proud to have him on their team. It was a special night in his career, to pass Alex English.

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Hassan Whiteside returns: A 'great feeling' playing with Dame and Melo at the same time

Hassan Whiteside returns: A 'great feeling' playing with Dame and Melo at the same time

CHICAGO – For the first time since Carmelo Anthony laced ‘em up as a Portland Trail Blazer, the starting lineup he was meant to play with was in-tact.

Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, who has been dealing with right hip soreness, made his return after missing the Blazers’ previous two games.

Now, four games into Melo's tenure, Whiteside, along with the rest of the starters in Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Rodney Hood took care of business from the jump. The Blazers blew out the Bulls, 117-94.

I felt great coming back out there-- and just playing with these guys. It’s my first time playing with Dame and Melo at the same time, so it was definitely a great feeling.

Whiteside brought the energy on both ends while doing what the Blazers needed most: Pulling down rebounds and altering shots at the rim.

The 30-year-old shot an efficient 6-of-8 from the field to score 13 points on the night. He led the team in rebounding with 12, and three of those boards came on the offensive end. The Blazers center also finished with two blocks, but also altered more shots than the box score showed.  

Whiteside admitted after the win that by sitting out and being able to observe what is team has needed over the past couple of games really helped.

I got to see it from the sideline and, you know, I really feel like I can come and help, and I wanted to really do that, and it’s one of the points of emphasis and it felt great to get a win by such a large margin on coach's birthday.

Yes, it was a win for Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts on his 62nd birthday. Coach Stotts was pleased with how Whiteside asserted himself on both the offensive and defensive end, saying, “his presence in the paint at both ends was something that we had been missing. He was blocking shots, he was getting rebounds, [and] finishing around the basket.”  

Whiteside hadn’t played since the Blazers dropped one to the Pelicans on November 19th. In the loss, the Blazers big man had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

It wasn’t just that everything seemed to be working for Whiteside on Monday in Chicago; it was that everything was working for the entire team.

Guys were hitting shots. I was just trying to get them open with screens, just trying to rebound as best of my abilities, and guys were just clicking, and I really think we can be a dangerous team.

Having Whiteside back meant he brought a lift on the defensive end and on the boards. He helped re-energize the team.

Although, McCollum made sure to mention he and his teammates were also energized because they knew they were ‘going back home.’

This team is ready to get back to Portland there’s no ands, ifs, or buts, about it.

And, don’t get it twisted: Having what Coach Stotts called ‘vintage’ Melo out there was key in routing the Bulls, but having their final piece to the puzzle in Whiteside was what started off the great night, and the great way to end the this trip.