Blazers news: Bench trio does it again, Scoot's defense, win streak coming?

Duop Reath, Portland Trail Blazers
Duop Reath, Portland Trail Blazers / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Here's the latest Portland Trail Blazers news (Dec. 27) after a dominant win over the Sacramento Kings, including a heroic bench group, Scoot Henderson's best game, and are the Blazers about to embark on a winning streak?

Trail Blazers bench unit led by Scoot, Reath, Walker does it again

We've broached this topic before, but as this group is finally getting some real love after all three had huge nights in the win over the Kings, it's worth revisiting.

Scoot Henderson had 17 points and 11 assists, Jabari Walker finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds, and Duop Reath had a career-high 25 points to go along with a career-high 9 rebounds.

It was a standout performance individually and collectively. But it's not a fluke.

Scoot, Walker and Reath have shared the floor for a total of 91 minutes across 10 games this season, and the numbers when that group plays together back up exactly what fans saw in the win over the Kings.

The Blazers outscore their opponents by 42 points per 100 possessions when that trio is on the floor. Their offensive rating of 134.6 is far and away the best of any Portland group that's played regular minutes together. Their defensive rating of 91.7 is in line with those that include two of the team's best defenders in Jerami Grant and Toumani Camara.

These aren't three of the Blazers' best players, but they do exactly what head coach Chauncey Billups asks of this team - they play hard, they scrap, they're pesky on defense and on the boards and they get out and run in transition. It's one of the team's most productive groups and Billups needs to go to it more often.

Scoot Henderson's literally strong defense

Scoot hasn't been the poster boy for defense this season. As a 19-year-old rookie listed at 6-foot-3, he's at a natural disadvantage, at least for now. But last night showed why he's different than other small Blazers guards like Anfernee Simons, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Henderson is not nearly as slight as Simons or McCollum and, at least when he feels like it, puts in more effort on that end than Lillard ever did. That was on display multiple times in the win over the Kings. Scoot used his quickness and athleticism to switch, switch and switch some more when Sacramento put De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis in ball screens.

There was a play in the second quarter where he got caught trying to defend Sabonis - one of the best post scorers in the NBA - on the left block. He was eventually called for a foul for being too aggressive, but he didn't let the Kings' big man get to his spot. He used his low base and strong legs to stand his ground against Sabonis, who's 6-10 and 240 pounds.

Sabonis was able to go right through Walker and Reath - both considered either forwards or centers - and score on the next few possessions. He had no such luck on the much smaller Henderson.

It's just a glimpse of how Scoot's strength, athleticism and physicality make him different and potentially a legitimately good defender in time.

Time for a Portland Trail Blazers win streak?

Billups' squad has gone 2-2 in its last four games, a far cry from the seven consecutive losses the Blazers suffered between Dec. 2 and Dec. 17.

And now Portland gets a shot at the San Antonio Spurs, who have a grand total of four wins and are the only team below the Blazers in the Western Conference standings. Portland gets them two nights in a row at Moda Center.


If the Trail Blazers play as well as they did last night, that should - should - be two more wins, which would make three in a row and four in the last six. It will also be a test of whether Portland has turned a corner; does the team take care of business against an inferior team, or do they blow two winnable games?