BLAZERS 105 KNICKS 100 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Despite the return of Carmelo Anthony to the lineup and the season debut of Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks failed to celebrate the New Year in style. Portland topped New York 105-100 at Madison Square Garden behind 26 points from Nicolas Batum.
The Knicks never led in the contest and the Blazers seemed to answer every run from the home team. After trailing by 11 points at the half, New York jumped out on a 6-2 run to start the third quarter and two free throws from Tyson Chandler knocked the lead down to six at the 7:01 mark. Batum buried a 3-pointer and then J.R. Smith sunk his own long ball before Batum answered again by drilling another shot from downtown.
In similar fashion, Anthony hit a 12-foot jumper to trim the Blazers lead to 78-73 in the early stages in the fourth quarter but Ronnie Price quickly netted a 3-pointer on the other side to push the lead back to eight points.
With 1:25 remaining in the final stanza, New York attempted another dramatic comeback when Smith finished an acrobatic putback layup. Smith’s bucket brought the Knicks within four points. Anthony dropped a 3-pointer to give New York a shot only down three points. The rookie, Lillard calmly buried a 3-pointer over Pablo Prigioni to push the advantage back to six points.
Anthony just missed a pull-up 3-ball with 15 seconds on the game clock that would have tied the game. The Knicks suffered only their third loss of the season at the Garden and fell to 21-10 on the season.
After missing two games due to a hyper extended knee, Anthony returned to form in a big way. The MVP candidate scored a game-high 45 points in the defeat. Smith added 28 points off the pine and Stoudemire scored six in his first game of the year.
"I felt pretty good for the most part. Tonight, I didn’t expect to do some of the things I was able to do out there. When you are playing your adrenaline is flowing and you aren’t thinking about anything. I feel a little sore. I am trying to get the power and strength back to my left leg.” -- Carmelo Anthony
Anthony was brilliant once again. He worked inside and out en route to 45 points on 14-for-24 shooting from the floor to go along with seven boards and four assists. Anthony finished 5-of-11 behind the arc and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Smith is the first Knick to score 25 or more points in four straight games coming off the bench (since starters and reserves began being counted in 1970, Elias Sports Bureau).
The Knicks return to MSG Training Center on Wednesday afternoon for a practice session and to prepare for a rematch against the Spurs. After the crazy comeback win in San Antonio earlier in the season, the Spurs will be seeking revenge at the Garden on Thursday night at 7:30 PM.