The Portland Trail Blazers’ 131-120 home loss against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night marked their sixth loss in a row, putting the team’s overall record at 6-18. Despite the troubles, Portland rookie point guard Scoot Henderson remained mighty confident in the postgame locker room.
Saturday featured just the second game all season Portland had Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Deandre Ayton and Malcolm Brogdon available in the lineup. As the team gets healthy and gains familiarity with one another, Henderson said it’s only a matter of time before the Trail Blazers “click” and put the entire league on notice.
That’s something you can’t really put a time [limit] on, I think when it does click, it’s gonna click though, and we’re gonna shock the world. And a lot of people that doubted the Trail Blazers, they’re gonna eat that.
Henderson, to his credit, has been starting to click more on the court from an individual standpoint. The No. 3 overall pick bounced back from a difficult first half against the Mavs to perform well in the final two quarters, keeping Portland in the game at stretches with his downhill scoring and energy. Henderson finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting (all in the second half), three assists, three rebounds and one great block on Dallas center Dwight Powell.
Henderson chalked up the early difficulties to the ups and downs of basketball, as well as adjusting to a new bench role.
Rough start, but it’s basketball, so things go like that. Things don’t always go your way. Once you in the game, especially just coming off the bench, like I said the other day, it’s tough. It’s different for me, but I’m adjusting to it.
As far as what changed in the second half, Henderson gave no grand answer.
Nothing. I just went out there and was myself. Nothing changed, nothing in my head. It was the same mindset, just go out there and be you.
Since coming back from an ankle injury that held him out of nine games in November, Henderson is in the slow, but steady process of improving from a shaky start to his rookie campaign. In the 10 games since his return, Henderson has scored in double-figures in seven outings, and the overall trajectory of his development has trended upwards. The Dallas game was preceded by a 23-point, 10-assist performance against the Utah Jazz and a 19-point, six-assist game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Some of the head-scratching turnovers are still there, but so are more instances of swooping dunks, paint penetration and an improved 3-point percentage. After the Dallas game, Henderson was asked what he picked up from watching games while he recovered from the ankle injury. His answer dealt with pace:
To slow down. I got a crazy burst of speed, and when I can slow down and then speed up, that changes everything. Because a lot of defenses are gonna know I’m tryna get downhill with my right hand
Henderson and the Trail Blazers will get another chance to click on the court tonight. Portland plays the Golden State Warriors, with tipoff coming a little after 6 p.m. PST.