The shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers snapped a six-game losing streak against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, 127-115, bringing their record to 32-40. They retain the No. 13 position in the Western Conference standings but are still 3.5 games back of a Play-In spot.
But whether you’re rooting for the team to make a late postseason push or you prefer them to fall into better draft position, there was a lot to like in this game. Specifically, from the young guys.
Nineteen-year-old rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe, starting in place of Anfernee Simons, scored a career-high 24 points, while forward Trendon Watford contributed 21 for the second time this season.
Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups had high praise for both after the game, but really hammered home that Watford has worked extremely hard to get to the level he has reached as a player.
I’m just so happy for Trendon. He’s just a worker. He works his butt off. He’s worked on a lot of the things that I’ve told him, like, ‘These are your weaknesses, and if you’re going to make it in this league this is what you got to get better at. XYZ.’ And he’s doing it every single time. And the way that he plays with the feel – he has a high level of feel about him. Trendon is one of those glue guys that all teams need and, aside from the numbers, he just impacts the team with his spirit at all times. So, when he gets the numbers that’s just extra. So, I’m just very happy for him.
Watford, who drew the start in place of injured forward Jerami Grant (quad contusion) has come up big on multiple occasions this season, including times when the Trail Blazers had a more competitive outlook. His efforts are not unnoticed.