The Portland Trail Blazers dropped another preseason contest to the Phoenix Suns, 134-118. Here are player grades from last night’s game.
Last night the Portland Trail Blazers tied their shoes and prepared for a track race, but accidentally showed up to compete in the long-range archery event instead.
The Blazers had a higher field goal percentage, grabbed more offensive rebounds, blocked more shots, and committed less fouls. On most occasions, their performance would have been good enough for a win, but not this time.
Nothing could have prepared them for the way the Phoenix Suns caught fire from 3-point range last night, who took 45 attempts from deep (the same number the Houston Rockets shot on average last season) and hit them at a clip of 53.3 percent. Even their bench got involved, drilling 13 shots from beyond the arc.
Here are the player grades for some notable performers from last night’s defeat.
CJ MCCOLLUM27 PTS, 3 AST, 3 REB
Last night, CJ McCollum didn’t look like Robin to Damian Lillard‘s Batman; he looked more like a player capable of taking charge and standing toe-to-toe with the best of them. That’s the version of McCollum the Portland Trail Blazers are going to need this season.
He shot 10-for-17 from the field and tallied 27 total points. He was also the only player to hit four 3-point shots, whereas Phoenix had three. Most of the Suns’ big runs came when McCollum was resting, so he can’t be faulted for this loss. However, trimming down on the 11 turnovers the Blazers starting backcourt committed should be a priority.
KENT BAZEMORE8 PTS, 2 REB, 1 STL
While he only scored 8 points total last night, they all came in one efficient flurry. Filling in for Rodney Hood last night (who sat due to back spasms), Bazemore hit 3-of-4 shots and played actively on both ends of the court.
As the preseason progresses, Bazemore is slowly building up his case for winning the starting small forward position. He has been an incredible ball hawk, racking up ten steals across just three preseason games. He’s also hit 50 percent of his 3-point attempts across that span, hopefully indicating he can consistently be an effective 3-and-D player this year.
HASSAN WHITESIDE12 PTS, 6 REB, 1 BLK
At face value, Hassan Whiteside performed pretty well last night. He made all five of his shot attempts, maintained a strong post presence, and even knocked down both of his free throws. But it does feel like he could be doing more.
Against a Suns team that rested many of its notable starters, Whiteside put up the same rebounding numbers as teammate Mario Hezonja. He has also only recorded one block in his first two preseason games. Not to overreact, but this is what he was brought in for. He still looks promising, but perhaps he should stick to what he’s good at instead of trying to play point center — considering he turned the ball over six times last night.
ZACH COLLINS16 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST
Zach Collins did a little bit of everything last night, looking like a real starter in the league. He scored 16 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out 5 assists and even blocked 2 shots. While there were plenty of things he could improve upon, the Blazers would be ecstatic to get those averages from him this season.
He also displayed a willingness to jack it up and stretch opposing defenses out to the arc, which is a great sign even if he failed to hit any of three attempts. Collins converted 6-of-7 free throws, helping confirm that shot is still sweet and should start falling sooner rather than later.
ANFERNEE SIMONS13 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST
Anfernee Simons brought some firepower off the bench, and did his best to hold Phoenix off despite not getting much help from the rest of the second unit. Simons continues to look like a natural shot creator, scoring 13 points and nailing three shots from long-range.
His development as a distributor seems to be hitting a bump in the road however, as Hezonja continues to look like the best passer off the bench. This will probably be something Anfernee has to work on throughout the year. The good thing is, he’s learning the right way. Although he only has six assists across three preseason games, he has yet to commit a turnover. That’s positive production any way you look at it.
The Portland Trail Blazers next suit up against the Utah Jazz on October 16.