Here's the latest Portland Trail Blazers news for Dec. 18 after a failed comeback bid and a 118-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors, including a defensive highlight amid multiple lowlights, Scoot Henderson's continued rise and an argument for why Chauncey Billups made the right call in the waning moments of last night's game.
Trail Blazers snap epic Steph Curry record
Something that probably went overlooked by most fans in the Warriors loss - rightfully so, as it was Portland's seventh straight defeat - was the fact that the 2023-24 Blazers of all teams put an end to one of Steph Curry's incredible runs.
The NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made did something he hasn't done in 268 games; he didn't make one.
Steph was 0-for-8 from behind the arc and managed only 7 points in a Golden State win. The first half of that sentence is great for the Blazers...which makes the second half that much more depressing.
Scoot Henderson may be figuring it out
Blazers rookie point guard Scoot Henderson got his NBA career off to an inauspicious (at best) start.
If the past few games are any indication, though, Scoot has turned a corner and is beginning to look more like the superstar Portland believed it was getting with the No. 3 pick last June.
Before scoring a then-career-high 17 points on Dec. 2 in a game against the Utah Jazz, the 19-year-old Henderson's averages looked like this:
- 8.3 points, 4.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 3.6 turnovers, 4 personal fouls with shooting splits of 33/19/67.
Since then, including that 17-point outing against the Jazz, Scoot's numbers look like this:
- 15.0 points, 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 turnovers, 3.6 personal fouls with shooting splits of 41/30/84.
The 19-year-old passes the eye test, too. He looks more attack-minded and less tentative than he did during his first nine games. It's not time to hand him the car keys yet, but he looks much, much better.
Chauncey Billups made the right call
Few things get fans more riled up about a coach than an end-of-game decision gone wrong. However, Chauncey Billups made the right one against Golden State, even if it didn't work out.
With six seconds left and the Blazers down by two, Deandre Ayton rebounded a Curry missed free throw and passed the ball to Shaedon Sharpe, who took off toward the other end of the floor. Rather than call a timeout to set up a final play, Billups decided to let Sharpe run with it.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, Shaedon was called for an offensive foul, Golden State's Brandon Podziemski made two free throws, and that was that.
Per Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report, Billups' original plan was to call that timeout, but when he saw Sharpe aggressively hunt a game-tying or potentially game-winning shot, he let his 20-year-old take it.
"I wanted to just let it play out. If Shae had ever broken the play and stopped attacking, I would have probably called timeout. But I was comfortable with it."- Blazers coach Chauncey Billups
There were four potential outcomes on that play: Sharpe converts the layup, he misses the layup, he gets fouled and goes to the free-throw line or he's called for a charge. The chances were 50-50, though, that something positive was going to come from Shaedon's aggressiveness.
Maybe if the Blazers were fighting for a playoff spot Billups calls that timeout. But in a season like this, he made the right decision in letting one of his most important players have a go.