Old Issues Carry Over To New Year In Loss To Knicks

by Casey Holdahl
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NEW YORK CITY -- The start of 2020 hasn't been any better than the end of 2019 for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Trail Blazers started the new year and a five-game road trip with a 117-93 loss to the New York Knicks, a team sitting in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference standings, in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 on New Year's Day at Madison Square Garden.

"First half I thought was very competitive," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "It just got away from us at the start of the fourth quarter."

Portland is now 14-21 overall and 6-12 on the road this season. The loss is Portland's fifth in a row and ends a six-game winning streak versus the Knicks. And with the loss, the Blazers sit at ninth in the Western Conference standings after 35 games.

"Not how we wanted to start this road trip," said CJ McCollum. "We have to take advantage of games, especially against teams who are under .500. That’s the way we can get back to .500 is wining these types of games. We have to try to build and get better for the next game otherwise it’s going to be a long road trip."

While the first half was closer than the final score would indicate, the Trail Blazers never looked as though they were going to come away with the win Wednesday night in New York City.

Rarely did their shooting percentage peak above the 40 percent mark, the Knicks power forward and centers scored easily all night long -- second year center Mitchell Robinson went a perfect 11-of-11 from the field, almost entirely on open dunks -- and Damian Lillard made just one of his 10 attempts in the first half.

Despite having little going their way, the Trail Blazers still managed to trail by just six points at the end of the third quarter. But an 18-4 Knicks run to start the fourth quarter, which featured four consecutive New York three-pointers and Portland going over four minutes without scoring, turned a close game into a blowout.

“We just got outplayed," said Lillard. "Everything they wanted to do, they did it. They made shots, they got stops, they got foul calls. Whatever they wanted to do, they did it.”

The Blazers scored just six points in the first seven minutes of the fourth, and by then, there game was out of hand.

Outside of Carmelo Anthony, who finished with a season-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting on there floor where he spent seven seasons, there was nothing for the Trail Blazers to celebrate on New Year's Day.

“I wish we had won, but that is another issue we need to deal with," said Anthony. "Overall, I think the experience of just being back today was the most important thing. Losses are something that we’ll get to the bottom of and figure out."

Anthony finished 11-of-17 from the field and 3-of-5 from three while also collecting seven rebounds in 31 minutes.

Hassan Whiteside logged a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocks and two steals. CJ McCollum went 6-of-16 for 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.

Lillard went 5-of-20 from the field and 1-of-8 from three to finish with 11 points, though he found other ways to contribute with 10 rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes.

Five Knicks finished in double figures led by Mitchell Robinson, who didn't miss a shot on the way to 22 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Julius Randle also went for 22 points, though he grabbed 13 rebounds to Finnish with a double-double as well.

Marcus Morris added 18 points, Bobby Portis had 17 and Reggie Bullock scored 11 points off the bench, just two fewer points than Portland's bench scored collectively.

The Trail Blazers now head to Washington D.C. for the second game of the trip Friday night versus the Wizards. Tipoff if scheduled for 4 p.m.


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