The Portland Trail Blazers picked up a crucial win on Tuesday night, as they cruised past the Indiana Pacers, 133-112. Not only did the Blazers snap a five-game losing streak, but they made sure to keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks in the race for sixth place in the Western Conference and the last guaranteed playoff spot.
But while the playoff race might have been the first thing on everyone’s mind, it wasn’t the only thing happening in this game. Back-up guard Anfernee Simons had one of the best games of his young career, and made some history in the process. Simons made his first nine 3-point attempts of the night to finish with a season-high 27 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Not only was that a career-high for Simons from beyond the arc, but it extended his streak of consecutive made 3s to 13, tying an NBA record. The only other players to make that many in a row are Shake Milton, Terry Mills and Brent Barry.
Simons’ streak actually ran over the course of four games because of his somewhat sporadic playing time. Even against the Pacers he only played 24 minutes, he just made the most of them. With the Blazers’ main offensive threats — Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony — drawing most of the defense’s attention, Simons spent the night spotting up and hitting open looks.
There was plenty of praise for Simons after his big night, including from Lillard who said, “He knows I’m his biggest supporter.” The All-Star explained that he’s trying to instill confidence in Simons and thinks nights like Tuesday will go a long way in his development.
Lillard’s expanded thoughts:
“I just got a lot of confidence in him. I know how talented he is, I know how much ability he has. When he gets in those positions I’m just always trying to encourage him to keep going. Don’t be shy, don’t worry about what people might think. Like if you hot, the level of talent that you have, and the ceiling that he has and how good he can be, we gotta allow him to grow into that.”
“I think moments like tonight kinda play into that, where you allow him to experience that, you know, he got hot. He had nine 3s, and instead of saying ‘you’re the young guy, we gotta try to win the game,’ you gotta let him roll. Let him feel himself and let him feel good about it. I encourage him in that way. To where like, be comfortable going out there and if you get hot, keep firing.”
It doesn’t get much better than setting a career-high, making NBA history and hearing that kind of support from one of the best guards in the league. If Simons can keep up this hot streak, it will give the Blazers a big boost as they try to catch the Mavericks for the sixth spot in the West.
After Tuesday night’s slate of games, the Blazers are one game back of the Mavericks, but they hold the tiebreaker between the two teams, so all they have to do is catch them, not overtake them. The good news is there’s plenty of time for them to do that, the bad news is the Blazers’ schedule down the stretch is brutal.