Photo / Bruce Ely
Blazers Take Care of Business Versus Shorthanded Knicks
Without the threat of either Carmelo Anthony or Derrick Rose, the Portland Trail Blazers (33-38) did exactly as they should have Thursday evening, taking care of business against the visiting New York Knicks (27-44), 110-95, in front of 19,020 fans at Moda Center. The win moves the Blazers within a single game of the eighth-place Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference playoff race.
Aside from a 14-14 tie at the 5:57 mark in the first quarter, Portland led the entire game. The Trail Blazers led by as many as 23 in the third quarter. The Knicks would pull as close as 10 points in the second half.
“I thought we played a really good first half on both ends of the floor," said Portland head coach Terry Stotts in his postgame press conference. "I thought it was just a really solid half. I was disappointed with the fact that New York cut it to whatever they cut it to, ten. Some of that is obviously New York playing better but I thought they outworked us. We got loose with the ball, some of our decision making wasn’t what it needed to be.
"They made a run, but we finished strong so that was a positive.”
Blazers guard Damian Lillard led all scorers with 30 points to go with five assists and six rebounds, Thursday marked the eighth consecutive outing of 25 points or more for the fifth-year point guard. His running mate in the Portland backcourt CJ McCollum added 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting in the victory. Jusuf Nurkić finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. As a whole, the Blazers shot 48% from the field and continued their tear from deep since the All-Star break, converting 11-of-21 (52%) from behind the three-point arc.
Anthony (sore left knee) and Rose (sore right foot) missed Thursday’s matchup following a 108-101 loss in Utah the night before. In their absence, Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 18 points and nine rebounds. Courtney Lee scored 16 points in the defeat.
"They saw a few shots go in, they put a little stretch together," Lillard said of the Knicks' second half effort. "I thought we still did a good job keeping it in double digits, executing and keeping our poise and separating ourselves and getting a good win.”
The Blazers finish their three-game homestand Saturday night when the welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to Moda Center. New York wraps up its four-game road trip in San Antonio to face the Spurs on Saturday evening.