The Portland Trail Blazers lost 118-117 to the Washington Wizards on Thursday night after a furious fourth-quarter rally fell just short. Guard Anfernee Simons keyed the comeback with 22 points in the final period, part of 41 overall for the evening.
Portland had the ball in hand on the final play of the contest, down one, six seconds remaining, needing a bucket to win. Instead of getting the ball to Simons, the super-hot hand, the play went to forward Jerami Grant. Grant drove the lane, drifted left, and missed a well-guarded, looping layup badly, not even hitting the rim.
After the horn, Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups addressed reporters in the postgame interview. The first question asked involved the controversy over the final shot, and whether the play went as planned.
Billups indicated that the play was identical to one run a possession before, which yielded a clear, two-handed dunk for Simons (albeit in different circumstances, as the Wizards guarded the rim loosely with Portland down three). He claimed that Grant took a different option, keeping the ball himself instead of running the play through Simons.
Below is the video of Billups comments, along with a transcript of the section pertaining to that play.
It was the same play we just ran before that when Ant [Anfernee Simons] got the dunk coming downhill. Several options on the play. Jerami just caught it and just kind of went one-on-one. I’ve got to live with that. He’s one of our best players. He’s a great one-on-one player.
The only thing I would say: I wish he would have went a little sooner. Just in case he missed it, we got a chance for a tip-back. It took a little too long to get there. But obviously, the play we ran before when we got the ball to Ant, he got downhill. We just didn’t get it there.
The Blazers will face the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at 5:30 PM, Pacific.