Kristaps Porzingis

Trail Blazers gain ground on Denver after easy win over Knicks

Trail Blazers gain ground on Denver after easy win over Knicks

It wasn’t as easy as they would have liked, but the Trail Blazers took care of business Thursday against short-handed New York with a 110-95 win in which they never trailed.

Playing a woeful Knicks team that was without injured starters Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, the Blazers bolted to a 15-point lead in the first quarter and a 21-point lead at halftime. The Knicks got as close as 98-88 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum shut the door and locked Portland’s ninth win in the last 12 games.

The Blazers (33-38), who moved within one game of Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot with 11 games remaining. Denver (34-37) next plays at Indiana (36-35) on Friday.

Lillard had 30 points, the eighth consecutive game he has scored 25 or more, tying him for the third longest streak in franchise history with Geoff Petrie (1970-1971) and McCollum (this season). He scored seven points in a two minute span to lead a 10-0 Blazers run after New York cut the lead to 10. It was the ninth time in 15 games since the All-Star Break that Lillard has scored 30 or more points. 

McCollum added 20 points, Jusuf Nurkic 16 points and 10 rebounds and Noah Vonleh grabbed 11 rebounds.

"I thought we played a really good first half on both ends of the floor,'' Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "I was disappointed with the fact that New York cut it to 10. Some of that is obviously New York playing better ... but they outworked us. We finished it off, so that was a positive.''

The Knicks (27-45) started three rookies – Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Ron Baker – and they were overmatched in every facet of the game as they trailed by as many as 23 in the second half.

If Nurkic wasn’t powering over Hernangomez for dunks, Lillard was blowing past Baker for layins. New York’s lone remaining star – Kristaps Porzingis –finished with 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-21 shooting.

The rout started early as Portland jumped to a 37-23 lead in the first quarter behind 15 points from Lillard and some dreadful play by the Knicks. New York shot 28.6 percent in the quarter while Portland made 14-of-23 shots (60.9 percent). Lillard scored 15 in the first quarter.

"I thought the way Damian got off in the first quarter really set the tone for the rest of the first half,'' Stotts said.

The Knicks, who beat Portland earlier in the season, lost for the fourth consecutive time and seventh time in eight games.

Evan Turner, who tried his third protective apparatus on his right hand, had his best game since returning from his broken third metacarpal, recording 10 points and six rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting.

"Evan looked much more comfortable out there,'' Stotts said.

Next up: Minnesota at Blazers, 7 p.m. Saturday (CSN).


Trail Blazers can't finish, lose to Knicks

Trail Blazers can't finish, lose to Knicks

NEW YORK -- When it came time to make a winning play in a back and forth game Tuesday, the Trail Blazers couldn't and the Knicks did. 

Derrick Rose hit a short jumper with 6.8 seconds left, which came after a Carmelo Anthony offenisve rebound, putting the finishing touches on New York's 107-103 victory over the Blazers at Madison Square Garden. 

Rose's game-clinching shot came after Damian Lillard and Evan Turner couldn't connect on a pass that went out of bounds with 53.1 seconds left with a chance to tie or take the lead. 

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 31 points and nine rebounds and Rose finished with 18 points and five assists. Anthony finished with 17 points but struggled to 7-of-22 shooting. 

The Blazers (8-8) looked like it was preparing to run away down the stretch after Maurice Harkless hit a mid-range jumper to give Portland a 101-98 lead with 3:59 left. But Portland would miss its final six shots and muster only two Lillard free throws the rest of the way, wasting two defensive stops that came off an Ed Davis block and a Harkless block of Anthony.

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The game-changing play came when Rose scored on an acrobatic reverse layin with 3:16 left, which came after he beat Lillard on a drive, and when Harkless didn't help in time, Rose reached the rim and scored. New York improved to 7-7.

Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and six assists and CJ McCollum added 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Davis had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Harkless had 15 points and eight rebounds. 

The Blazers entered the fourth tied at 81 after New York's Mindaugas Kuzminskas hit a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. It was a back-and-forth quarter with neither team able to open more than a three point lead. 

The same defensive problems surfaced for the Blazers in the first half, particularly in the second quarter, when the Knicks scored 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting to take a 60-58 halftime lead. Most of the damage was done off Blazers turnovers, which translated into fast-break opportunities. The Knicks converted all five of their fast break opportunities for 13 points in the first half. 

Davis, who started his third consecutive game at power forward, was the Blazers' best offensive player in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Two of his baskets were on offensive rebound tip-ins, and the others on pick-and-roll finishes at the rim. 

Next up: Blazers at Cleveland, 4 p.m. Wednesday (CSN)