Guards Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons combined for 49 points, but it simply was not enough without big contributions across the roster.
A bright spot on the bench, however, was forward Nassir Little who managed eight points in just 12 minutes of action; a nice change after going scoreless in his previous two outings. Since returning from a hip injury last month, Little has, on occasion, been an impact player for the team, but has seen limited minutes on most nights.
After the game, Danny Marang of 1080 the FAN and Blazer’s Edge asked head coach Chauncey Billups what Little has to do to get on the floor. Billups was candid in his response.
I mean, he just got to kind of be consistent. Nas is a guy who we all know can really shoot it. He’s been very inconsistent and when he came back he was obviously making shots, and things I talk with Nas about is just so many missed assignments, defensively. And I just always have felt like when you’re a reserve and when you’re coming off of the bench, your margin of error is really small. You got to kind of do most things right. That’s the only way you earn more and earn more, because you are a reserve. And some nights Nas does a really good job and some nights he struggles; it just is what it is. Nas is still a very young player. But it’s not always – even for all of our younger guys – it’s not the shot making that’s always going to keep you on the floor. It’s all the other things.
Being a valuable reserve is often less about doing things completely right than it is not doing things wrong. Right now, it seems Little can be a liability on the defensive end too often to really make headway. But that can change with time and effort. As Billups says, he’s still a very young player at 22 years old. Consistency is key.