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Anfernee Simons Says He’s Comfortable Being “The Man” in Portland

The Trail Blazers guard plays it cool in postgame interviews after a win.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons scored 23 points, including a game-deciding bucket, via 9-23 shooting in Portland’s 109-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. After the victory, Simons addressed reporters as a featured spokesperson in postgame interviews.

The entire interview can be seen here. Below are key excerpts from Simons’ reflections.

On his final, game-deciding shot that clinched the win over the Suns:

I felt pretty good about it. Just trying to get the best shot up possible. It’s funny, in that moment I was trying to decide whether I was going to go up with two hands and try to shoot a jump shot or a floater, and at the last minute I just switched it to a floater. I was able to get a good look and it went in.

On his struggles from the field:

It’s a new mindset for me just in general, knowing that I’ve got enough time to get myself back in the game, while taking initiative and trying to get everybody involved early. That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last couple games. Shooting the ball hasn’t been working out well for me, but I think I’ve been happy with the progress. Usually in the past I would just fade that whole game. I just wouldn’t be effective at all. Now, obviously, I’ve got the ball in my hand a lot more. I’m just trying to keep myself calm through those times. It can get frustrating when you’re not making shots and you feel like you’re not in a good rhythm where you think you should be. I just try to stick with it, trusting that eventually the shots are going to fall. Today the shots fell at the right time. That’s what the coaches have been preaching to me. At the end of the game, you’re most likely to have the ball in your hands. That’s when all the best players, regardless of how they played the whole game, they rise to the occasion...

On being “The Guy”:

It’s just a matter of feel. Seeing what we need at the time. Every game is different. Like tonight I didn’t have [it] going, so I was just trying to find the best shot possible for myself or others. Sometimes it didn’t work out, sometimes it did. As long as we’re getting good shotrs, quality shots each time that we’re feeling good about. Sometimes I might have it going and I’m just freestyling. I’m making shots and it’s time to just go, test and see how many shots I can make to finish out the game.

It takes trial and error to get comfortable in those situations. I’ve been here before, in this exact situation before, and I know how to handle it.

Simons also spoke on the play of Deandre Ayton, on dealing with different defensive coverages and double-teams, playing against former Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, and showing emotion on the court.