Simons steps up in final Blazer scrimmage
Trail Blazers other than Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum saw a lot of action Tuesday in the team's final scrimmage against Oklahoma City at Orlando, Florida, in preparation for the NBA restart this week.
And, once again, reserve guard Anfernee Simons stood out — just as he did in the 2018-19 season finale against Sacramento when he scored 37 points with Lillard and McCollum out of the lineup.
Simons scored 23 points with five rebounds and four assists, but the Thunder beat the Trail Blazers 131-120.
Gary Trent Jr. added 19 points and Wenyen Gabriel 14 points and seven rebounds. Mario Hezonja added 13 points, Jaylen Adams 12 and Zach Collins 10.
The Blazers, who had shot .222 from 3-point land in the first two scrimmages, went 18 of 37 (.486) from the 3-point arc. Simons and Trent went a combined 10 of 13.
Simons said in previous two scrimmages that "I was getting shots I wanted, they just were not falling. I wanted to stay consistent with being confident, playing defense at all times no matter the outcome on the offensive end, and time will come when shots fall."
Said coach Terry Stotts: "Obviously this was his best game down here. He shot the ball well, played at a nice pace. He ran the team the way he's supposed to. When you're a scorer and not shooting the ball well, it can be frustrating. I thought he played with good poise and good pace."
Center Jusuf Nurkic looked good again — the big man, returning to action after his leg injury 16 months ago, had three strong scrimmages. He had a couple nice drives to the basket Tuesday. He had five points and five rebounds in limited time.
Lillard has been nursing a sore foot and sat out and McCollum rested Tuesday.
Nassir Little returned to play after going through concussion protocol.
"Everybody's going to be ready to go Friday," Stotts said.
The Blazers, who lost all three scrimmages, open the eight-game NBA restart at 1 p.m. Friday against Memphis (NBATV/NBCSN).
"No question, we're ready," Stotts said. "The best thing was to get out there and play against somebody (in scrimmages). Our practices were more beneficial than our scrimmages."
Stotts reiterated that because the eight games are basically playoff games, he'll use a rotation of players and it could change game to game.
Chris Paul did not play for the Thunder. Darius Bazley had 20 points for Oklahoma City. The Thunder went 20 of 40 on 3-pointers.
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