Antonio’s “Morning” After Report: Thunder

Good (afternoon) Blazers fans, Antonio here. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the Blazers cannot get anymore in-game injuries over the next two days. The bad news is that there might not be a healthy Blazers team left soon enough. I even consider the 125–122 loss to the Thunder a moral victory. Let’s get into it.

Injuries Galore

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Blazers are broken. This team, already hobbled, took an even bigger blow on Monday. Robert Covington sat out with a concussion, and Rodney Hood was sidelined after pregame warmups with a thigh injury. To make matters worse, Derrick Jones Jr. left the game with a left quad contusion.

All these injuries left Portland with seven healthy players and one Keljin Blevins. For as deep as this team is, missing out on six role players is going to hurt a lot. Despite their best efforts, the Blazers could come back for the W.

Simons and Trent Star

For the last year, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent have been like a mini-Cj and mini-Dame to me. Is there any evidence to this claim other than the fact that both players are the backups? No. But last night, the duo scored like they were stars.

Simons, who struggled to start the season, has turned it on in these last two games, scoring 26 on an efficient 10–17 shooting last night. Trent chipped in 22 to score over 10 in back-to-back for the first time.

With so many injuries piling up, the success of these two will drive the Blazers for the weeks to come.

Playing Catch-Up

Fueled by a renaissance night by Mike Muscala, the Thunder jumped out to an early lead and held on for the rest of the night. The Blazers had to play catch-up, something that they are used to doing at the beginning of the season.

This strategy of falling down 10+ early may have worked against teams like the Kings and Hawks, but against a resilient, young squad like Oklahoma City, and without a majority of players, it isn’t going to succeed.

This loss is not one that deserves shame. The Thunder always seem to overperform, and Portland is settling into this new, injured reality. This may be the new normal, but Covington, Hood, and Jones Jr. should all return soon, if not against Houston. And if Simons and Trent can continue this hot stretch, the Blazers may prove to be just as capable.