The Portland Trail Blazers endured a decisive, but spirited, 120-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. During the performance, Blazers guard Scoot Henderson notched 30 points, drawing the admiration of onlookers and his head coach, Chauncey Billups, alike.
After the game, Billups sat down with reporters to talk about the action and about the evolution of his highly-drafted rookie point guard. You can watch the interview in full on YouTube or via the embed below. The complete text of Billups’ comments follow.
On his team’s slow start:
We got off to a tough start. They jumped on us. But man, we showed some resolve. I was happy we got back in the game. Our bench came in and gave us everything we needed. Then the starters came back in and played a little better. But I was happy with our effort. I thought we played really well. We pushed them to play the game and beat us.
On Scoot Henderson’s 30-point performance:
Scoot was awesome. He was awesome. He was decisive the whole time. He was attacking. He was aggressive. He put a lot of pressure on their defense. They had a hard time controlling him. He made some shots, but I just loved his attack. He was fast and he was furious out there today.
On Henderson having to earn a spot:
That’s what I’m about. Scoot’s been playing great. I’m always...you kinda eat what you kill. You’ve got to earn it. He’s doing just that. He’s putting back-to-back games together. Obviously you see, he played 37 minutes today. You play that good, you earn the right to play more. That’s how this game goes. That’s how life goes. You earn everything. I’ve just been so proud of him, man. He’s getting better every night.
On managing a guard-heavy roster, including Henderson and fellow guard Malcolm Brogdon:
I always like to have two guys on the floor at all times that can attack and that can play-make. Whether it’s Scoot and Malcolm, or there’s Scoot and Ant [guard Anfernee Simons], Malcolm and Ant, it’s always good to have a guy on both sides of the floor, strong side and weak side, that if it gets to him, he can actually attack and go make a play for somebody, whether it’s him or somebody else. I thought they all just played well together.
On Henderson drawing foul shots:
He does it when he just attacks. He’s so explosive. I’m always telling him, “You’ve got people guarding you and they’re gonna be on their heels. There’s no way they’re going to be able to guess right and beat you there. Just keep the pressure on them.” He’s so coachable; he just does it. And that’s the consequence of it. You get to that free throw line time and time again. See that ball go through the basket gives you confidence, slows the other team down. I thought he just played an incredible game.
More on Henderson being coachable:
When you do your intel on these kids you find out everything. I mean everything. I already knew how coachable he was. For me that’s just beautiful, to get a kid like that who’s so competitive and so skilled, so talented, but that will also listen too. That’s a beautiful thing.
On back-to-back games with the Nuggets:
It’s to be able to get another shot at them. Our goal is to go out and play as hard as we can and try to do whatever we can do, try to win the game like we did tonight. We gave ourselves a chance. That’s a really, really good team. They’ve got a lot of shot-makers. Obviously Joker [Nuggets center Nikola Jokic] had one of his type of games tonight. We just couldn’t sustain.
On Jokic’s huge outings:
It’s really tough to beat them when he’s having that type of night. You have to really have it going offensively. You’ve got to have a lot of shots going in to be able to beat them on a night like that when he’s putting a masterpiece performance on. You’ve got to be able to go shot for shot, and then you try to get three stops at a time here and there to make a run. That’s really the best way that you can do when he’s playing that way.
The Blazers will face the Nuggets again at 5:30 PM, Pacific on Sunday evening.