Game 2 Recap: Portland Trail Blazers Def. Phoenix Suns

Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, preseason game 1 (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, preseason game 1 (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Despite struggles in the pre-season, the Portland Trail Blazers have come out strong in the 2022/23 regular season, with two straight victories, and while they cruised to a win over Sacramento, this one was much harder, requiring Overtime to take down the very talented Phoenix Suns. The expectations on Portland coming into the seasons were decidedly mixed, with some believing they should be in the hunt for Victor Wenbanyama, while others saw this as a quality play-in team, and through two games, they’ve proven that they can get the job done, and could be better than many expect.

Classic Dame

While it wasn’t a perfect performance from Damian Lillard, he consistently put the ball in the bucket throughout the game while others struggled, tallying up 41 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds on 48% shooting, and if he can keep playing like this throughout the year while growing with these young guys, this will be a very fun team to watch.

We’ve seen this for years with Lillard, but after he was doubted and counted out following the injury he suffered in 2021 to end his season early, this was a great statement game to show that his demise was greatly exaggerated. The team as a whole have plenty of work to do if they are to become a genuine contender in 2022, but this is a great start, as winning a close game against a playoff team is a good step going forward, and

The clutch shot in OT

Anfernee Simons certainly wasn’t at his best throughout this game, but when it mattered most, he stepped up and made the game-winning shot in overtime, and after the game, Dame told reporters how he encouraged Simons to “put his big boy pants, because you got the big contract, you got the game, step up”. That’s exactly what he did, as he drove past Mikal Bridges for a running hook shot, and even with 7 seconds left on the clock, it was the game winner, as Portland sealed a 113-111 victory.

It’s a great sign for Blazers fans when their young guys can step up and make shots like this, and if the bench can get rolling, this team will be very tough to beat going forward, but if Simons is the one that can take his game to the next level, there’s no limit on how good this team can be.

Overall takeaway

This team still has a ways to go before they can be considered a genuine playoff team, but behind a dominant performance from Lillard, they certainly looked like a squad that can compete with anyone in the NBA during the regular season. The bench struggled to get consistent scoring, but with 41 from Dame and contributions from everyone else, there’s potential here, especially if the rest of this starting lineup can get on the same page and consistently compliment each others games.