LAS VEGAS — Gary Trent Jr. and the Trail Blazers bounced back from a lackluster effort in their first summer league game to beat the Houston Rockets 97-87 on Sunday night.
Trent Jr. had 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals to lead the way. He started the game hot, making 7 of 8 shots, including all five of his 3-point attempts, in the first half, and never really slowed down, finishing 10 of 12 from the field, 7 of 8 from the 3-point line and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.
His ultra-efficient outing Sunday was a stark contrast from the Blazers' first summer-league outing, a 93-73 loss to the Detroit Pistons in which Trent Jr. missed 9 of his 12 attempts from the field.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Trail Blazers 97, Rockets 87
The Trail Blazers' Casey Holdahl reported that Portland assistant coach Jim Moran, who is coaching the summer-league team, challenged Trent Jr. and fellow second-year guard Anfernee Simons to play better after Saturday's loss.
"We got embarrassed [Saturday]. That's not Blazers basketball at all," Trent Jr. said. "Coach challenged us. That's the great thing about this coaching staff, they challenge you to be better, and we were that tonight."
Simons also showed improvement on Sunday. In Saturday's loss, he led the team with 15 points, but was inefficient, making just 5 of 14 shots from the field and missing three of his four 3-point attempts.
On Sunday, Simons was hot in the first half, too, making 5 of 7 shots, including four of five from the 3-point line. He finished with 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists, though he also had six turnovers.
Simons and Trent Jr. impressed new teammate Mario Hezonja, who tweeted his approval with four fire emojis midway through the game.
Simons said after the game that Portland's coaches have asked him to focus on his defense and improving his point-guard skills during summer league.
"Just work on [my] game. Make sure [to] play hard defense, emphasize the defense," he said. "They know my offense is going to come, and there are stepping stones to being able to be a point guard. I've got to get better at that and continue to grow. I've got a long way to go, but I think I'm headed in the right direction."
The two Blazers rookies also showed well Sunday. First-round pick Nassir Little made 3 of 5 shots form the field, including 1 of 2 from the 3-point line, and finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Jaylen Hoard, who signed a two-way contract with the Blazers earlier this summer, continued his strong play with 10 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. After two games, Hoard is averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game.
Collins in attendance
Trail Blazers third-year big man Zach Collins was at the game Sunday and spoke to NBA TV reporter Jared Greenberg during the game.
Collins talked about his approach to next season, when he's projected to earn more playing time and potentially start at power forward.
"Go in and get my body right, get in as good of shape as I possibly can, and make sure my skills are polished," he said. "[Get ready] for the season, to go out there and do well in whatever role I have next year, regardless of what that is."
The Trail Blazers play the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2, and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday at 5 p.m. on NBA TV. Both games are at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
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