Blazers coach Chauncey Billups takes veiled shot at Anfernee Simons: 'Not who we are'

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers are 6-17 this season, but their 17th loss may have been their most embarrassing.

Portland has struggled with injuries this year, but on a night when 4/5 of their starting lineup was available, the Blazers trailed by as much as 33 at one point in a 122-114 loss to the Utah Jazz.

The starting backcourt of Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe walked into Moda Center red hot. Center Deandre Ayton returned from knee soreness and got his first chance to run some pick-and-roll with Simons since opening night. Malcolm Brogdon was also back and coming off the bench.

On paper, head coach Chauncey Billups' squad should have played its best game of the year. Instead, Portland allowed a Jazz team down its four best scorers to shoot 53 percent from the floor and pour in 69 first-half points.

Billups didn't hold back in his postgame comments, laying into his team for its awful defensive performance. But it's not hard to decipher that his comments were directed at one player more than any other.

Chauncey Billups seemingly calls out Anfernee Simons after loss to Jazz

Other than maybe Scoot Henderson's first career double-double (23 points and 10 assists), the loss to Utah was a disappointing performance team-wide. The Blazers gave up 103 points through three quarters; it was only because of an entire fourth quarter's worth of garbage time that the Jazz didn't land closer to 140 by night's end.

Portland's performance on that end of the floor was especially disappointing to Billups. The Blazers' head coach didn't call out any player by name, but his comments, per Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian/Oregon Live, sure seemed directed toward Simons more than anyone else:

"We’re trying to establish ourselves as defensive-first team. And I think it’s been a couple of games where, we start getting some of our offensive players back and it looks so sweet and cute out there when we’re making shots. That’s not who we are. That’s not who we’re trying to be. We’re a defensive team. We gotta get stops for us to play well. And I thought our starting unit, they got us off to a very poor start."

Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups

"It's been a couple of games where, we started getting some of our offensive players back and it looks so sweet and cute out there when we're making our shots."

Simons is the Blazers best offensive player. After missing more than six weeks with a thumb injury, he came back on Dec. 7 and immediately dropped 28 points in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. He then scored 30 in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks and followed it up with a career-high 38 in a loss to the LA Clippers.

If there's any one "offensive player" who's played "a couple games" and was "making shots," it's Simons.

That's not to say the Blazers' defensive issues against the Jazz were all Simons' fault. No Portland starter finished with a positive plus-minus, and four of the five finished with a minus-23 or worse. Billups was right to call out the entire starting group.


But it's not hard to read between the lines and see that Portland's head coach was disappointed by Simons' effort.