Western Notes: Simons, Popovich, Markkanen, Payne

Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons erupted for 45 points against the Jazz on Saturday and jokingly lamented he wanted more, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian writes. “Back of my mind, I wanted 50,” Simons said. “There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for it. But it’s alright. We got the win.” Simons, who is filling the scoring void for injured Damian Lillard, is in the first season of a four-year, $100MM contract.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Gregg Popovich may return to the Spurs bench on Thursday when they host Houston, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Popovich underwent a minor medical procedure. “He is fine. That’s what people should hear the loudest,” said Brett Brown, who is filling in as San Antonio’s head coach. “It was just a minor situation, and you’ll have to deal with me for another night, another afternoon. But he is fine.”
  • Lauri Markkanen needs to realize he’s now the top offensive option with the Jazz and should be just as aggressive with the ball when he’s having an off night as he is when filling up the nets, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News opines. Markkanen’s unselfishness is admirable but he needs to think like an All-Star, Todd adds.
  • Cameron Payne was disappointed in himself for making four turnovers despite a 20-point, 12-assist night against Houston on Friday. But Payne has continued to impress with Suns starting point guard Chris Paul sidelined by a heel injury, Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic writes. “I love his balance. I love what he’s done for our team,” coach Monty Williams said. Payne’s $6.5MM salary for next season is only guaranteed for $2MM.
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