New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony had a vision Wednesday night, a vision of No. 7 hanging in the rafters of Madison Square Garden

Carmelo Anthony had a vision Wednesday night, a vision of No. 7 hanging in the rafters of Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK CITY – New Year’s Day had been circled on New York Knicks fans and media's calendars since the Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony back on November 19th.

Even though it wasn’t the outcome Anthony wanted, it was a night full of cheers, hugs, picture taking and smiles all around.

Wednesday night was the Trail Blazers fifth straight loss after the Knicks took control in the fourth quarter, but it was also a night that the city of New York City celebrated Anthony.

“The love was definitely felt tonight -- from the fans that were here, just from the city as a whole. Just being back, I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain, but for me to get that kind of ovation, I think I’ve always gotten the love from the city like that. To be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight,” Melo said after Wednesday’s loss. 

While waiting for Melo to talk with the media after the game, the swarm of New York reporters reminisced about what once was with the future Hall of Famer playing in NYC.

Reporters, fans, and Melo all had that sense of nostalgia.

Knicks fans showered Anthony with a loud ovation from introductions to the final minutes when he was sitting on the bench and they chanted, "we want Melo!"

The 35-year-old admitted he didn’t know exactly what to expect when it came to how the fans would receive him.

“I was prepared for whatever. Mentally, I was prepared. It wasn’t something that I actually spent a lot of time thinking about. I wanted to come in and have a good game, try to win the game and be a part of this environment once again.”

Melo beamed while talking about how it felt to be back.  

Being back on that court it’s special. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony postgame  

It was a special night, and a big scoring night for him personally. He finished with a season-high 26 points on an efficient 11-for-17 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

It was also a night he had a vision about the future.

When Anthony was asked postgame if he thinks his No. 7 jersey would eventually be retired by the Knicks, he responded with a smile and said, “I don’t know you have to ask them.”

But, that doesn’t mean Melo wasn’t thinking about that possibility.

I did glance up at the rafters today during the National Anthem. They say in life that you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning it hanging up there. 

As Melo walked out of the visitor's locker room, he was stopped for a couple of photo opportunities; he also shook hands with some of the MSG employees.

The love wasn’t just felt from the fans. Many who worked at MSG loved Anthony as well.

It’s hard to think that his vision of No. 7 being retired one day wouldn't happen.

That could be the ultimate way to show their love for Melo.  

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Knicks

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Knicks

It was the first game of the new year for the Blazers, but unfortunately for Portland, 2020 started the same way 2019 ended - With a loss. 

His team didn't come out with a win, but Carmelo Anthony did everything he could to change that in his return to Madison Square Garden. 

You knew from the start when Anthony got a standing ovation for the Knicks fans that he was going to put on a show. 

He wasted little time catching fire, pulling out all the vintage moves Knicks fans came to know and love over the years. 

Anthony ended the night with 26 points and seven rebounds. He was great on this night, but it just wasn't enough. 

Portland couldn't contain New York's big men, especially Mitchell Robinson who scored 22 points on 11 of 11 shooting. It was a rough way to start the new year, as Portland drops its fifth game in a row. 

Final Score: New York 117 - Portland 93

QUOTABLES:

Carmelo Anthony on being back in Madison Square Garden: 

The love was definitely felt tonight. From the fans that were here, just from the city as a whole. Just being back, I think that that feeling is kind of hard to explain, but for me to get that kind of ovation...I think I've always gotten the love from the city like that, but that love felt extremely good tonight.

CJ McCollum on the loss:

Not ideal. Now how we wanted to start this road trip. 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 winning 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.

Damian Lillard on the loss:

We just got outplayed. 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.

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MeloMania not enough as Lillard doesn’t make enough shots and Blazers can't get enough stops

NEW YORK CITY -- When Damian Lillard makes five of his 20 shot attempts, plus takes zero trips to the free throw line, you're in for a bad time, even if its against a team who had just nine wins heading into Wednesday’s game.

That’s what happened on New Year’s Day in New York City.

The Blazers let the game slip away in the final period as the Knicks cruised to a 117-93 win, handing the Blazers their fifth-straight loss.  

It’s no secret that the Blazers ride or die with their big three in Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony. And depending on how they perform, the team performs right along with them.

 That is exactly what Blazers head coach Terry Stotts acknowledged in his postgame interview. 

“At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Melo and Dame were out and that is where they made their run and it got away from us.” 

The Blazers were down just six heading into the final quarter.  

Stotts also mentioned he was pleased with his team’s effort early on, saying, “First half -- I thought was very competitive. [The Knicks] hit a three at the end of the first half, otherwise, it was essentially a tie game in the first half. It just got away from us at the start of the fourth quarter. They passed the ball really well. I don’t know how many assists they ended up with, but they moved the all really well. Offensively, it was good to see Melo have a good game.”

Lillard may have scored just 11 points while only making one of his eight three-point attempts (now 1 for his last 15 attempts), but the Blazers did get a season-high in points from Carmelo Anthony.

On a night where Melo made his return to Madison Square Garden, a place where he called home for seven-and-a-half years, he scored 26 points on an efficient 11-of-17 shooting.  

But after the game, the 17-year veteran gave credit to the young Knicks squad on what he called a special night.

I wish we had won, but that is another issue we need to deal with. 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. You got to tip your hat off to those guys tonight. They played extremely well. The way they shot the ball, the way they were locked in, they deserved to win tonight. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony postgame.

Anthony and Lillard’s connection was strong all night.

Despite Lillard’s off shooting night, he still did plenty to keep the Blazers in the game through the first three quarters, whether it was grab rebounds or find his teammates.

Coach Stotts recognized how Lillard did what he always does: He directs the game like a point guard should. 

“Dame does a terrific job of managing the game.” Stotts said.  “He runs it. He gets guys shots. I thought the pick and rolls with him and Melo they kept switching that, and it gave Melo opportunities to score on the block one-on-one against a smaller defender. I thought Dame didn’t shoot the ball practically well, but he managed the game well.”

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard finished with 10 rebounds and eight assists. McCollum added 17 points in the losing effort.

Lillard explained after the loss that even though the ball wasn’t going in, that didn’t change his approach.

I played how I always play. You play a lot of games and sometimes the ball doesn’t go in and tonight was one of those nights for me shooting the ball, but I tried to still play a complete game. I thought I made plays the way I always do. We were having issues keeping them off of the glass so I tried to come back and rebound and communicate through their plays, try to pick up our urgency and tighten up defensively. -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard postgame

What the Blazers didn’t manage to get done is something they have been talking about over the past few games: Consistent defense.

The Knicks shot 48 percent from the field as a team and finished with 54 points in the paint to the Blazers’ 32 points in the paint.

Second year-player Mitchell Robinson gave the Knicks a big boost off the bench. The 21-year-old center was a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor.

Coach Stotts pointed back to his earlier comment about the Knicks passing so well as to why Robinson was able to go off and score 22 points.

“I though they passed the ball really well and he was their recipient. Some of his pick-and-roll defense, some his rebounding, he had an impact on the game.” 

The Blazers are back to square one, again, and now must figure out how to make an impact on the defensive end as they continue their five-game road trip with a stop in Washington Friday night.

Portland can’t let Washington, who has a very similar record to the Knicks, do ‘whatever they want’ to the Blazers.

Just ask Lillard about how that went vs. New York: “We just got outplayed, everything they wanted to do, they did it. They made shots, they got fouls calls. Whatever they wanted to do, they did it.” 

Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony’s return to New York spoiled

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Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony’s return to New York spoiled

NEW YORK CITY – It wasn't the way the Trail Blazers wanted to start out 2020.

In front of a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden, the Blazers and Knicks battled all night as Knicks fans cheered for Carmelo Anthony all night as well.

FINAL BOX SCORE: KNICKS 117, TRAIL BLAZERS 93

Here are three quick takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:

1.  Melo’s return to MSG 

With the Blazers playing in New York to open the New Year, it meant the return of Carmelo Anthony to the place he once called home. Anthony played six and a half seasons with the Knicks before being traded to the Thunder in the summer of 2017.

Knicks fans showered Melo with loud cheers during introductions and whenever he made a good play.

Anthony was the leading scorer for the Blazers at halftime with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting including a perfect 2-for-2 from three-point range.

Melo continued his consistent play in the second half, making buckets both inside and out. Despite Anthony's efficient shooting night, the Blazers weren't able to get enough stops against the Knicks.

2.  Blazers get scoring elsewhere with Lillard’s off night

The Blazers had to rely on others to put points on the board. Damian Lillard made just one shot in the first half on 10 attempts. When Lillard took a few hard hits on his way to the hoop, there were no whistles. After his shooting struggles continued in the second half, he seemed to turn his focus to getting his teammates involved more. Lillard found Hassan Whiteside rolling to the rim, Kent Bazemore in the corner, or CJ McCollum slashing.

3.  Knicks cash in down low

New York kept the game close because of their presence near the basket. Heading into the third quarter, the Knicks had already scored 30 points in the paint to the Blazers’ 14 points in the paint.

It was backup center Mitchell Robinson who gave the Knicks a big boost offensively. Mitchell is averaging 10 points and 7.1 rebounds this season, but against Portland he had 16 points by halftime. He brought the energy off the bench and made things difficult for the Blazers thin frontcourt.

Robinson was a perfect 11-for-11 from the field on the night.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their five-game road trip with game number two of the trip on Friday night against the Washington Wizards. The Blazers and Wizards will tip-off at 4:00pm PT on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

WATCH: Carmelo receives huge ovation in return to New York

WATCH: Carmelo receives huge ovation in return to New York

The Trail Blazers had a lot of roster turnover this offseason, meaning we have a lot of "return games" on the schedule in 2019-2020. 

Portland has already welcomed former Trail Blazers Evan Turner and Al-Farouq Aminu back to Portland, and now it was time for the Blazers to return the favor. 

With the Blazers playing in New York to open the New Year, it meant the return of Carmelo Anthony to the place he once called home. 

Anthony played six and a half seasons with the Knicks before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the summer of 2017. 

That season the Thunder played in New York and Anthony had 12 points and eight rebounds in first return. After being traded and eventually waived by the Rockets, Anthony wouldn't see an NBA court for more than a year. 

On the brink of retirement, fans never thought they would never see Anthony in the NBA again, let alone a return to Madison Square Garden. Thanks to the Blazers, we got both. 

As expected, the New York fans showered Anthony with cheers during his pregame intros:

 

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Expecting many emotions in Melo's return to MSG

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Expecting many emotions in Melo's return to MSG

NEW YORK CITY -- It’s a New Year’s Day celebration as Carmelo Anthony makes his return to New York City.  

Madison Square Garden is buzzing with fans excited to see Melo get back on the MGS floor.

Before the Trail Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 4:30p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts gave his thoughts on the emotions that come along with Melo making his return to New York.

“Well, it’s New York so it’s hard to say, but I would expect that he would be well received. As we’ve gone around the country he’s been well received.” coach Stotts said pregame.

Coach Stotts also discussed the loss of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, saying “he was a remarkable man. What he did for basketball, what he did for the NBA is legendary.”

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:
Mario Hezonja (low back pain) is questionable. Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) is out for Wednesday’s game at New York.

 

KNICKS INJURY REPORT:

Kevin Knox II (illness) and Reggie Bullock (neck; cervical disc herniation) are probable. Dennis Smith Jr. (left oblique; strained), Frank Ntilikina (sore groin) and Damyean Dotson (sore lower back) are questionable for Wednesday’s game.

 

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

CJ McBUCKETS: CJ McCollum scored 17 points (7-10 FG, 2-3 3-PT, 1-1 FT) in the fourth quarter at Utah on Dec. 26, helping cut a 20-point Jazz advantage entering the final period to one point with 4:40 remaining in the game. McCollum had 25 points for the game.

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Knicks today at 4:30pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Knicks today at 4:30pm

It’s time to hit the road.

The Trail Blazers (14-20) are set to embark on a five-game, 10-day trip, tipping off in New York City on New Year’s Day.

The Knicks (9-24) are currently riding a two-game winning streak following their seven-point victory over the Wizards Saturday night.

Now after having three days off, the Knicks welcome in the Blazers.

Portland knows how important it is to get the job done on the road especially since the Blazers have dropped four straight.

Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony explained how being on the road could be a good thing for the Blazers:

“This is where we we’ll come together as a group, as a team, and we’ll figure it out on this road trip… These injuries that we have you can’t control that, but we have guys on this team that know how to play, a lot of experience, know this type of situations, have been in these situations before whether here or somewhere else… Like I said I think this road trip will really bring us together. Going on the road, sometimes you need to get away from home… Because it’s all about us on the road.”

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Knicks game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

1:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

3:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

4:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

4:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Knicks

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

Quotable

“I thought we played well for most of it. I think we had some lapses offensively, and defensively where we left guys wide open, we didn’t get rebounds, gave up second chance opportunities or when we scored they came back down the next play. So, there’s some great things we did tonight and some things we did pretty poorly." – CJ McCollum after Monday’s loss to the Suns 

Trail Blazers' main focus on five-game road trip? Come together, play better defense, & flat-out win

Trail Blazers' main focus on five-game road trip? Come together, play better defense, & flat-out win

NEW YORK CITY – It’s not the way the Trail Blazers, who now hold a 14-20 record, were looking to head out on this latest five-game road trip.

Portland started out red hot against the Suns Monday night, and most would think after witnessing such an impressive first quarter that the Blazers were going to steam roll Phoenix. They were up 19 points.

And then, the Blazers ended up losing.

It was their fourth straight loss.

But now, Damian Lillard and his teammates are forcing themselves to set their focus on the next five contests away from Moda Center.  

“We’ve got to put these games behind us because we can’t get them back,” Lillard said after Monday’s loss.

That’s the Blazers thinking right now: Put the losing streak behind them.

Winning enough is hard. Winning on the road is even harder. 

As Portland embarks on this 10-day trip, Carmelo Anthony explained that it's imperative that they have a short memory.

This doesn’t even matter anymore going into this five-game road trip. The only thing that matter is having a great road trip, going out there getting some wins, starting in New York. Even though it’s easier said than done – putting this game behind us… We have an opportunity to do something special on this road trip.  -- Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony

Portland will make stops in New York, Washington, Miami and Toronto before finishing up in Minnesota on January 9th.

Lillard mentioned how they are “a lot of winnable games” on this trip, beginning with the first two.

The Knicks and Wizards have a combined win total of 19.

As the Blazers continue to deal with their myriad of injuries, including the latest one with Skal Labissiere, who is not going to be with the team on the trip, the Blazers aren’t using that as an excuse.

Nor should they.

“Everybody in the world knows that we’ve got every injury you could possibly have,” Lillard said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys hurt and nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Nobody’s going to say, ‘Oh they’re hurt, and it’s okay.’ We come out, we show up and we play. Our job is to go out there and try to win games and right now we’re not doing a good enough job of it and it’s that simple.”

CJ McCollum also put it simply: They’re just looking to get the job done.

No ands, ifs, or buts, about it.

McCollum was quick to answer when asked what is the main focus on this trip:

“We’re going to try to win games. We are in a position to try to make a push for the playoffs. Five games on the road trip, we got to try to win as many as possible and take advantage of leads when we get up.” 

In order for the Blazes to win games, they know there is plenty to shore up defensively.

With Lillard, McCollum and Melo, the Blazers can get a bucket when needed.

But can they get a stop when needed?

“I don’t think it’s one thing,” Lillard explained when discussing what the Blazers need to work on defensively. “I think it’s just being able to sustain a certain level to where even when we do give up or have a breakdown, it’s not such a big breakdown and it’s not in such big moments. I think it seems like it always happens at the wrong time for us. It happens in stretches. But the problem is that it always happens. That’s an issue. “

That has become a big issue for Portland-- lapses of bad defense, especially down the stretch of games, has been one of the Blazers’ biggest thorns in their side besides the injuries.  

“It’s going to be hard to put a complete game together, especially against good teams when you always have these lapses and miscommunications," Lillard continued. "It was times tonight where it was like practice threes. That’s not people just being lazy – that’s miscommunications, not being alert and just not being sharp enough at that time. It just happens to us too often.”

The Blazers know what they need to do.

But, is it time to look elsewhere?

Do the Blazers need to bring in a big or power forward to turn things around?

That's not a bad idea. 

However, according to Melo, they may just need to get away from it all and be forced to focus on themselves.

I think we’ll figure it out. This is where we’ll come together as a group, as a team, and we’ll figure it out on this road trip… These injuries that we have you can’t control that, but we have guys on this team that know how to play, a lot of experience, know this type of situation, have been in these situations before whether here or somewhere else, and we got be ready. Like I said I think this road trip will really bring us together. You know, going on the road, sometimes you need to get away from home… Because it’s all about us on the road. 

As for Anthony's big return to the Big Apple, that couldn’t be further from his mind.  

“I’ll deal with that on Wednesday.”   

Portland will also begin dealing with their task at hand on Wednesday -- a complete game against the Knicks. 

Dame says, no matter what, this season will not splinter his team

Dame says, no matter what, this season will not splinter his team

The Trail Blazers left no doubt Tuesday night that no matter how bad things were going for them, they weren’t going as poorly as the New York Knicks.

The now 10-15 Blazers outscored the Knicks by at least eight points in each of the first three quarters and led by as many as 32 points while routing 4-20 New York, sending the reeling Knicks to their 10th straight defeat.

Obviously, Portland has not reached its pre-season expectations – injuries have taken care of that – but Damian Lillard says there is no worry about this team splintering or losing its way this season.

“Not us,” he said emphatically. “Because I think that starts at the top. We don’t have a coaching staff that wavers, where they come in here like, ‘We got to stop doing this!’ They are never negative. Some people have a hard time when you’ve struggling or losing and coming in the next day and still having the same positive attitude, while still addressing what the issues are. And our coaching staff, they do a great job of that.

Myself and CJ, we’ve always had that mentality of, ‘It’s not going well, but we’re going to figure it out.’ So, it’s not only no panic, when we see that from our coaching staff and our teammates see it from us, there is a level of confidence that you have throughout a group, when everybody can look to each other know and say 'He still believes, he’s still positive.'

“You keep that energy as a group. Whereas, ‘It’s going bad, but let’s keep going.’ If we finish the season bad, we’re going to have a whole season where we say, we fought through it. We always have our minds in the right place and we’re going to keep fighting through it.”

The Blazer coaching staff showed that it’s willing to tinker with things a bit, showing a 2-3 zone, a three-guard lineup and the team’s only two true bigs – Skal Labissiere and Hassan Whiteside – playing at the same time.

Asked when the last time he was on a team that played a 2-3 zone, Kent Bazemore shook his head and fought for a memory he couldn’t find.

“Um, I can’t really remember. It’s definitely a different wrinkle, especially if you throw it at them right out of a timeout,” said Bazemore, who started at small forward. “You have smart enough players on the floor, it’s actually very effective.

“You’ve got to give us credit tonight, though. We came out… Dame was super-special tonight and had the game we kind of needed from him. We’re still building. Confidence is starting to grow.”

Whiteside had another night of stuffing the stat sheet, getting 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in 25:38. Lillard was sensational from the floor, hitting 9 of 15 overall and 8-12 from three -- and he didn't play in the fourth quarter. Portland hit 17 of 41 threes while the Knicks managed just 7-38.

Next up, Thursday night on the road, is Denver.

Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here: