The Portland Trail Blazers mixed it up on both ends Sunday against the Knicks.
And it proved to be advantageous early on with the Blazers’ fresh legs.
Portland's communication on the defensive end was often and loud all game. It showed that the team's focus over the past few days was to shore up its D. The Trail Blazers also mixed it up going from man-to-man to a two-three and matchup zone after made baskets on occasion.
The Blazers took a 70-50 lead at halftime.
With more flow on the offensive end and less pick-and-roll action; the Blazers found their scoring groove early. But the Knicks made halftime adjustments and poured it on to cut the lead to five with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
After building such a big lead, Portland was able to hold on and not let this one slip away despite New York's timely stops and scoring down the stretch in big thanks to Julius Randle's playmaking.
The Blazers now improve to 9-6 after defeating the Knicks 116-113.
And even after welcoming twins into the world over the weekend, Damian Lillard still looked fresh.
With Lillard once again becoming a newborn father, and this time, times two, Lillard and the Blazers looked fresh after not playing since Monday with two games postponed against the Memphis Grizzlies this past week.
Portland was a cohesive unit on the defensive end in the first half, which is something that they had not yet been able to do so far this season.
With Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum sidelined, Lillard led the charge offensively with 39 points and six made threes.
But the Blazers also had plenty of role players step up in the scoring department.
Anfernee Simons also made the most of his minutes.
Running the second unit, Simons was aggressive while making sure to look for his shot and his teammates. Simons scored 13 points in 12 minutes in the first half.
Robert Covington suffered a neck strain in the first quarter, but did return to the game. He suffered the injury on this play after diving for the loose ball:
The Blazers let up in the third quarter and allowed the Knicks to make it a game once again at the start of the fourth quarter.
New York outscored Portland 27-19 in the third and followed that up with a 14-9 run to start the final period.
The Blazers’ second unit brought it on both ends, particularly early:
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed the challenges that the Knicks bring…
Damian Lillard passed Chauncey Billups in career 3-pointers made – he is now No. 16 on the all-time list.
Next up: The Trail Blazers wrap-up what was slated to be a seven-game homestand Monday when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town. Portland and OKC will tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW.