LAS VEGAS – Anfernee Simons, who has spent untold hours alongside Gary Trent Jr. in gymnasiums getting up hundreds and hundreds of shots, knows what happens when Trent gets in a groove.
“When Gary hits a couple in a row, it’s over,” Simons said with a smile.
And it was over early Sunday night and Trent hit more than two in a row.
Trent hit all six of his three-point shots in the first half, made 10 of his 12 shots from the field in Cox Pavilion and seven of his eight three-point shots during Portland’s 97-87 win over the Houston Rockets in Summer League play. When the smoke cleared, the second-year guard had scored 31 points in 25:02, along with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and just one turnover in a spectacular performance.
“We just tried to get him the ball and let him go,” said Simons, who had a solid shooting night himself, hitting 6-11 and 4-6 from long distance.
Trent is refreshingly honest about where he is and where he wants to be.
When told what Simons said, Trent offered, “I would like to think that. Me and him work countless hours in the gym with the coaches, just working on our jumpers day in and day out. When it’s time to showcase it and prove it, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Trent spent time in the G-League last season and it was about the only extended playing time he got during his rookie season. With the depth the Blazers had at guard, he was at the back of the line. And when you’re behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum it’s like going to graduate school for basketball. You better get your homework done.
“I’m not going to lie at all, it was tough,” Trent said. “First time in my life not playing at all, for a while. It was great people and fun to me, that I was learning from them, watching them day in and day out, everything they do – how they work, how they stay after, how they eat. I watched every single thing they do. It makes you work even harder, it makes you more hungry. So, I’m just going to continue to work.”
Both Trent and Simons have continually been asked what they’re working on in summer league and both give just about the same answer.
“I’m working on everything,” Trent said. “I’m not a finished product. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, so I’ve got to continue to work on my all-around game – my dribbling, my shooting, my mindset to the game, my playmaking. Everything.”
Trent and Simons did not play well in the team’s 20-point loss Saturday and the two combined to go 8-26 from the floor. Summer League Coach Jim Moran said he went over a tape of the game with the pair and challenged them to take more leadership.
And it worked.
“We had to pick it up,” Trent said. “Coach Jim Moran said that as well. Pick it up at the offensive end and the defensive end, if we want to win. And that’s what we did tonight.
“I think we bounced back pretty well.”
The team gets Monday off before getting back in action Tuesday.