The Portland Trail Blazers snapped a five-game losing streak against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, emerging victorious 136-119. Among the highlights was the defensive play of Gary Payton II, who had active hands in passing lanes and forced multiple Mavericks turnovers.
After the game, head coach Chauncey Billups was asked about Payton’s performance and had only glowing things to say.
Defensively, he’s just disruptive. You know, he’s disruptive, he’s like a little gnat. He just sticks to you the whole time and he’s got great hands and he’s physical, he’s smart as heck how he guards defensively. And so, he just has an impact and he’s one of those guys that the way that he plays, he makes all the other four guys level up. And offensively, he’s just smart. He’s a good screener – really good screener – and then when he gets the ball, because we got guys that need to be trapped, he’s a really good playmaker from there. You see him, he just gets the ball and just whips it out so fast before the defense can rotate, he sneaks behind the defense, plays in that dunker spot for a small guy. He’s just very unique, what he brings from an offensive standpoint. So, he was just being GP, you know. The reason why we covet him so much is because we know he can impact our games.
Payton finished the game with 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals in just 15 minutes.
This was Payton’s fourth game in a Trail Blazers jersey after missing nearly three months of action while recovering from off-season abdominal surgery. In that small sample size, he is averaging a career-high 1.8 steals in just 16.3 minutes per game. His contributions on both ends of the floor could be big for Portland moving forward.