By: Kylan Watson
Coming off a big-time win against the Sacramento Kings. The Philadelphia 76ers played the second game of their Western road trip against the Portland Trailblazers. Philly came in looking to redeem themselves after Portland beat them last week. The Sixers fell just short as they were victimized by the strong three-point shooting of the Trailblazers 118-114.
It was looking good early on for the Sixers. They were able to weather an early scoring surge by guards Damien “Walking bucket” Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. They combined for 42 of Portland’s 108-points. Philly was able to stay close and even take the lead thanks to a scoring surge from guard/forward Ben Simmons who scored 15 of his 23-points by half-time for Philly. He also made sure that he made his presence on the defensive end as well. As he was able to record a block and make it difficult for Lillard to score.
Even though Simmons had a dominating performance he and Philly could not overcome the fact that Portland hit 45.7% of their threes. Philly just could not overcome the three-point shooting. They were hitting very difficult shots. Philly was able to hold Lillard largely in check especially after his first quarter outburst. But, the other scorers for the Blazers stepped-up. Especially forward Carmelo Anthony. Who once again torched the Sixers. He scored 24-points off the bench.
It took Philly late into the fourth quarter to cut into the Portland lead. They used a late scoring run from center Joel Embiid (35-points) and Simmons (23-points) to get them back into the game. Philly cut the lead to one. Both Embiid and Simmons combined for 58 of Philly’s 114-points. They also trapped Lillard to get the ball out of his hands. Philly fell just short in this game, but put together a strong effort on both sides of the ball.
On his defense against Lillard, “I think I’m the best defensive player in the NBA,” said Simmons.
The Sixers still need to improve their perimeter defense as they will now face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. They will need all the great defense they can muster to hold Devin Booker and Chris Paul in check if they want to beat the Suns.