Chauncey Billups and Anfernee Simons discuss their respective games in the second installment of NBA TV’s “The Life” series, a mini-documentary on what it means to be an elite basketball player. The segment focuses primarily on how these two players–defensive specialists for different teams–have found success by being themselves.

“Chauncey Billups discusses Anfernee Simons’ ‘beautiful’ game.” Chauncey Billups is a former NBA player who played for the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves. He was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

Chauncey Billups discusses Anfernee Simons' 'beautiful' game

 

On Monday, the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 2-1 on a key six-game road trip, defeating the Orlando Magic 98-88 in a decisive victory that was not nearly as close as the final score indicated.

After recuperating from a collapsed right lung and celebrating the birth of his kid last week, C.J. McCollum returned to the court for the first time since December 4th. He scored 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, appearing at ease with the ball while shaking off some rust on both ends of the floor.

“To be honest with you, I don’t believe he was out of breath.” “Perhaps he’ll tell you something different,” Chauncey Billups said of McCollum, who was limited in minutes. “You’ll never know when he’s fatigued since he’s such a slick player.”

Anfernee Simons’ role evolved as a result of McCollum’s presence, as seen by the eye test and box score. As the Blazers showed McCollum with their starting team, he was obviously selecting his opportunities to be aggressive, happy to control the show. When McCollum went to the bench, Simons went into self-creation mode, but he never found the range on his jumper en way to 13 points and seven assists on 4-of-11 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three.

“Ant couldn’t make the three-ball go,” Billups observed, “but his floor game was brilliant.” “Everywhere else, he was fantastic.”

made us feel good. made us laugh pic.twitter.com/NOFXiN26JU

January 18, 2022 — Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers)

In particular, Simon’s fingerprints were all over Jusuf Nurkic’s tremendous night. Against the Magic, the Bosnian Beast showed true to his moniker, dominating every defender in his path with his back to the basket, diving to the hoop, and breaking the glass. Nurkic dominated the paint on offense and defense, finishing with 21 points, 22 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks. Nurkic wasn’t very effective, but Portland can overlook that when he scores often enough to garner additional defensive attention while catching on the move or with his back to the hoop.

Since returning from health-and-safety procedures on January 3rd, he’s averaging 15.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, good stats that are a step up from his season-long averages.

Billups stated of Nurkic’s recent increase in productivity, “The obvious thing is we’re going to him more.” “Our two top players were ruled out. Because Dame and CJ were unavailable, you must choose a player who you believe can be double-teamed. You can watch his self-assurance continuing to grow.”

However, it wasn’t only the Blazers’ de facto Big Three who helped them win their first two road games of the season.

Robert Covington was everywhere as a help defender, wreaking havoc on the backline and digging down to the nail to swipe two steals and block three shots, according to Billups. Nassir Little was everywhere as a help defender, wreaking havoc on the backline and digging down to the nail to swipe two steals and block three shots, according to Billups. Ben McLemore scored 11 of his 14 points in the third quarter, hitting 4-of-11 from the field with all but one of his three-point tries.

Billups added, “I think we played well.” “There were a few items in particular that we concentrated on removing. We just have a lot of good players.”

For your watching enjoyment, here are some amazing highlights. pic.twitter.com/bpzYWrI5MC

January 18, 2022 — Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers)

Portland has won three of its last four games and four of its last six games with Simons in the lineup. Billups’ squad is presently 18-25, three-and-a-half games ahead of the Sacramento Kings for the tenth and last position in the Western Conference play-in round.

The Blazers haven’t yet reached the midway point of their road trip. It’s just going to become more difficult from here. But, with McCollum back and Norman Powell set to return for Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat, Portland has regained some traction.

“We’ve had such a difficult time on the road that any victory we can get and any confidence is huge for us,” Billups said. “Right now, I’m enjoying, love how we’re playing.”

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