Notebook: Trail Blazers 105, Knicks 100

Posted Jan 1, 2013 11:41 PM

Joshua Newman, for

THE FACTS: On a night when Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence and Amar'e Stoudemire made his season debut, the recent struggles at Madison Square Garden continued for the New York Knicks.

Nicolas Batum hit six 3-pointers and scored a team-high 26 points to lead four players in double figures as the Portland Trail Blazers led from beginning to end, led by as many as 19 and held off a late Knicks charge in a 105-100 win.

J.J. Hickson finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard added 21 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Anthony, who missed the last two games with a hyperextended left knee, scored a game-high 45 points and shot 14-for-23 to pace the Knicks. J.R. Smith added 28 points off the bench.

QUOTABLE: "Forget the offense, we scored enough points. Defensively, we are not where we were earlier in the season. You can't keep spotting teams 20-plus point leads and think you will come back."

-- Knicks head coach Mike Woodson

THE STAT: The Knicks were dominated down low as the Blazers outscored them 48-36 in the paint and outrebounded them 47-37. Hickson, who came into the game averaging 12.5 points and 11.0 rebounds, shot 9-for-11 and fell just one rebound shy of his team-leading 19th double-double of the season. Starting center LaMarcus Aldridge also registered a strong game down low, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds for his 11th double-double.

TURNING POINT: The Blazers came out swinging against a Knicks defense that has been porous recently at home, but an 11-0 run over a span of 2:25 in the second quarter broke the game wide open. Four different players scored during the run, capped by a Wesley Matthews floater in traffic that gave the Blazers a 43-25 lead with 7:22 to play in the first half. Matthews, back after missing the last four games with a left hip flexor strain, finished with eight points in 30 minutes.

HOT: Smith has been on a tear recently, averaging 25 points over his last five contests entering Tuesday. His strong play and his Sixth Man of the Year candidacy continued against the Blazers with his 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting from the field. The 28 points marked the ninth time he has gone over 20 points this season and the fifth time in the last six games. Additionally, he has now scored at least 25 points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career.

NOT: As a whole, the Knicks have not been very good recently at Madison Square Garden. Since ripping off 10 straight wins at home to open the season, they are just 2-3 in their last five at home. In all three losses, the Knicks have given up at least 105 points.

QUOTABLE II: "After those two days of practice with the team, I was able to get a good indication on how I truly feel. I felt better after day one, I felt even better after day two. I can feel the progress and I can feel the improvement."

-- Stoudemire said pregame on practicing Sunday and Monday before deciding he would play on Tuesday.

QUOTABLE III: "It was unbelievable. I think the fans showed something tonight by standing up and giving Amar'e that ovation. Knowing everything he's been through again with the injuries, it felt good to see that."

-- Anthony said of the standing ovation Stoudemire received when he checked into the game for the first time at the 3:31 mark of the first quarter.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Alda and John Leguizamo watched the game courtside.

NOTABLE: Stoudemire missed the first 30 games of the season thanks to left knee surgery in the preseason, but checked in at the 3:31 mark of the first quarter to a standing ovation. He promptly turned the ball over on his first touch, shot 0-for-2 from the field in the first quarter and 3-for-8 for the game. While Tuesday marked the 642nd regular season game of Stoudemire's career, it was just the 18th time he came off the bench and the first time since the 2006-07 season.

UP NEXT: For the Knicks, Thursday vs. San Antonio, Saturday @ Orlando, Monday vs. Boston. For the Trail Blazers, Wednesday @ Toronto, Friday @ Memphis, Saturday @ Minnesota.