Blazers cruise to 9th win in 10 games with 104-85 win over Knicks
Damian Lillard scored 30 points for the 8th time in the last nine games and CJ McCollum poured in 25 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers handle the New York Knicks 104-85. It was over as soon as the second half began and the Blazers cruised to another victory, their third straight and ninth in 10 games.
The Blazers started Tuesday night’s game in unexpected fashion. Young Noah Vonleh was unleashed, flushing two put back dunks in the first five minutes, in an intriguing match-up against Kristaps Porzingis. While Vonleh made his presence felt early, the Knicks were right with them.
The Knicks closed the quarter exceptionally well and not much was heard from the Blazers defensively. The Knicks scored with ease, but the Blazers did too. Portland had a two-point lead somehow after the first quarter thanks to another stellar start from Lillard. After scoring scoring 20 points in the first quarter on Sunday, Lillard had another double-digit start with 10 points.
However, the usually-dependable bench for the Blazers was outplayed for the first part of the 2nd quarter. They eventually got their bearings under them after an Arron Afflalo post-up gave the Knicks a 3-point lead. They got through some weird turnovers and foul trouble to Meyers Leonard to take the lead back and get into a back-and-forth before Lillard came back.
Lillard’s play has been on a new level as of recent and he continued his excellent play. He scored 11 points in the blink of an eye and ended the first half with 24 points, just one point shy of his per game average. The Knicks had played pretty well but it all went up in a Lillard firestorm, which has become a nightly occurrence as of late.
The Blazers needed it with CJ McCollum slower to get going and also not benefitting from being guarded by Jose Calderon. Whatever it took for McCollum to get going, he got there at the start of the second half. He hit a beautiful no-look scoop shot after Lillard found him for a corner 3-pointer. He then got a contested midrange shot to go soon after and the Blazers looked like they had the game in hand since they started playing better defense.
The Blazers never gave up control, even though the Knicks had chances. Their lead expanded to as high as 18 and the signs were there that the Knicks had already given them their best shot. After being hampered by foul trouble in the first half, Meyers Leonard resumed his hot shooting.
The Knicks threatened to make it a game but never made the big shots they needed to give their fans even the slightest bit of hope. The boos came down from the fans and you could hear them heckling through the screen. They were begging for Jimmer Fredette to get some playing time and finally got it towards the end of the game.
But even that was not easy for the Knicks.
- Leonard got in foul trouble in the second half but Moe Harkless played well after he came on to replace Leonard. But what deserves a lot of credit with this team is not just Stotts’ flexibility with the rotations but the willingness of each player to be okay with it. Harkless and Leonard are both in contract years and could easily go into their own cocoons, think management is trying to hurt their bargaining power, whatever. But their ability to stay ready and perform when called upon, no matter how many minutes they’ve played in the game or two before, is something deserving of commendation. And a rarity from young players.
- The Knicks are terrible and they’ve already put the postage on the envelope of their season. Kurt Rambis continued to stick Jose Calderon on Lillard (not that it matters who is on him right now) and a very recently injured Arron Afflalo got roasted by McCollum. It looked like they had a good thing going early in the season with the emergence of Porzingis and Anthony’s growth as a playmaker. Anthony had 23 points and 10 boards while Porzingis had 11 points and seven rebounds.
- The Mavericks are up by a lot against the Orlando Magic right now. While the Blazers victory puts them ahead by a 0.5 games for the 6th seed for the time being, they will probably be tied.