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.