BLAZERS 105 KNICKS 90 | ROSE GARDEN
How it happened:
For the first time in the past two seasons at least one of the Knicks “Big 3” did not suit up in game. This created a difficult task for a shorthanded New York roster without Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor in one of the loudest arenas in the league.
Despite missing the big guns in the lineup, the Knicks played a hard fought contest, especially in the first and third quarters. However, the Blazers generated enough fourth quarter offense to outlast the visiting team 105-90 on Thursday night.
After trailing by 16 points entering the fourth quarter, New York climbed back into the game on a 14-2 run as J.R. Smith ripped off a quick eight points. Smith’s 3-pointer dropped Portland’s lead to just 80-76 with 7:40 remaining on the game clock. The lineup of Pablo Prigioni, Smith, Jason Kidd, Chris Copeland, and Kenyon Martin found chemistry and momentum to threaten the Blazers chance at a win.
Just as quick as the Knicks cut into the lead, Portland raced back when its super rookie caught fire. Damian Lillard dropped eight of his team-high 26 points in the final stanza and his Portland crew outscored New York 25-14 in the final seven minutes of the game.
New York owned the first quarter of action with efficient shooting and a relentless attack to the rim. The squad registered 10 of its 30 points in the paint while Martin jumped out to an 8-point start. The new-look frontline helped to counter the absence of Chandler, Anthony, and Stoudemire and provided the Knicks with a 30-22 advantage heading into the second quarter.
The Blazers rolled on a 26-6 run that carried over from the second period to the early part of the third quarter. This big spurt from the home team led to the sizeable gap between the two teams, which forced New York into an uphill climb the rest of the night.
Smith tried to fill the scoring void left by Anthony. The shooting guard posted 33 points in 35 minutes to lead all scorers. Martin finished with 12 points and Felton scored 11 points in his return to Portland.
The Knicks fell to 38-25 following the defeat and the Blazers improved to 30-34 on the season.
Knick of the Night:
Smith tallied 24 of his game-high 33 points in the second half. He shot 11-of-21 from the floor, 4-of-8 behind the arc, and sunk 7-of-10 attempts at the charity stripe.
As seen most of this season, Portland relied heavily on its starting unit. The Blazers starters combined for 90 of their 105 points tonight.
The Knicks jumped on a plane following the contest and will have two days in Los Angeles before a matinee showdown against the high-flying Clippers on Sunday afternoon.