The Portland Trail Blazers won 116-111 over the Utah Jazz thanks to the offensive contributions of Anfernee Simons, who “set the tone” with a game-high 45 points on Saturday night.
Simons also hit a potential 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to the win.
“I wanted to be aggressive and set the tone for my teammates,” Simons said. “First of all, let them know that we are in this game and I will do whatever it takes to win.”
The Jazz took a 111-110 lead after a Kelly Olynyk jumper and had a chance to tie it at 114, but Simons shook off a Jordan Clarkson layup as he rose to attempt a 3-pointer from the right wing.
“I just tried to catch him before he went up. … Kind of a scary play, but I’m glad I got it,” Simons said with a laugh.
Simons scored 23 points in the first quarter – Simons’ season high, and any Blazers player in a quarter. Simons had 22 in the third quarter against Denver on October 24.
By halftime, Simons had 33 points and the Blazers led 69-60, this was the danger of his offensive skills. In doing so, Simmons becomes the third Trail Blazer in the last decade to score 45 points, joining Lillard and CJ McCollum. But that was not enough for him.
“In the back of my mind, I wanted 50. But there will be many opportunities for that. It’s good because we got the win,” said Simons.
Fortunately, there were some Blazers stars who stepped in as well.
Portland’s Jerami Grant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz stymied Simons. Jusuf Nurkic also had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Jazz is going global
The Jazz couldn’t contain Simons, or Jerami Grant, no matter how hard they tried.
It wasn’t just the 45 points, but Grant’s free throw with 6.4 seconds left — something Portland coach Chauncey Billups was quick to point out in the postgame press conference.
“Ant was quick and we were just like ride, ride, ride” Billups said, “So obviously Jerami goes”.
His team managed to attack, especially through Lauri Markkanen (21) and Jordan Clarkson (24). But what they did in the final 35.7 seconds rendered their contribution useless.
“You have to come out early and try to set the tone. It doesn’t matter if it’s the second night of a back-to-back. They came out with an aggressiveness and physicality that we haven’t had ( ),” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
The Jazz will look to work on their defensive weaknesses against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, while the Trail Blazers lock horns with the Indiana Pacers on Sunday evening.