Blazers win 116-113 slugfest over Knicks

by Kevin Nesgoda

After a six-day break, the Portland Trail Blazers returned to action tonight against the New York Knicks in the Moda Center. Damian Lillard’s 39 points helped lift the Blazers over the better-than-usual Knicks, despite Tom Thibodeau & Co’s best efforts.

Lineups

New York: Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Alec Burks, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson

Portland: Damian Lillard, Rodney Hood, Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kanter


Image via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Image via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Game Recap

First Quarter

The Blazers got off to a hot shooting start from behind the line, starting 4/6. Dame (15 points) and DJJ (10 pts) were both a perfect 4/4, while Hood added five of his own in place of an injured CJ McCollum.

Julius Randle was the aggressor for the Knicks offensively, getting to his spot on the baseline or taking it to the rim with force. He totaled 13 points in 15 first-half minutes.

This game was a special occasion for two former Knicks on the Blazers: Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony. They left New York with very different legacies, exemplified by this tweet from the Knicks.

Second Quarter

Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons opened up the second with two more quick threes. The Blazers surpassed the 50-point mark with over seven minutes left in the half while shooting over 60% from the field—even more impressive considering the Knicks were the best defensive team in the league entering this game.

It wasn’t long until near-disaster struck, though; Rodney banged his knee in a collision with Austin Rivers and clutched it in pain for a while. Fortunately, he was able to continue playing.

Portland’s defensive efforts were almost as impressive as their offensive ones. The Knicks were held to 45% from the field with only 6 threes. The hybrid-zone employed by Terry Stotts was working.

Simons continued hitting shots, earning 13 off the bench in the first half alone.

A RoCo-to-Ant fast break gave the Blazers 70 points to end the half—again, against the statistically-best defensive team in the league.

Third Quarter

With the hype focused on Ant, Dame reached a 25 after just a few possessions of the third. His streak of zero missed shots from the field or the line ended later in the quarter, but by then his 27 points on 82% from the field was nothing to balk at.

He also fathered a pair of twins into the world over the weekend, in case you still weren’t calling him Daddy Dame yet.

The Knicks kept within 20 thanks to some poorer three-point shooting from the Blazers (1/10 before Dame hits another one). Alec Burks was 5/7 from deep while Immanuel Quickley entered double-digit scoring.

Fourth Quarter

A Portland cold streak saw the Knicks cut the deficit to single-digits, although a Gary Trent pull-up and second-chance Melo three curbed it for a moment.

The Blazers’ FG percentage dipped under 50, but Dame slithered between screens to pop a signature three for his 35th point. This brought the lead back up to 10 with six minutes to play.

The lead was the same with three and a half minutes remaining when a jump-ball was called for Kanter and Randle, which Enes won.

Kanter’s pick-and-roll lay-in from Dame on the other end could have been an and-one, but the lead stayed at 12 instead.

Ant stayed with the starters as a second ball-handler with the Knicks double-teaming Dame in the backcourt, but young Ant had the ball stolen from him before fouling Quickley while shooting a three. Stotts challenged the call (hoping to get an illegal screen on Robinson) and lost it, sending Quickley to the line.

The rookie guard out of Kentucky made all three shots (he’s 93% from the line all year) and Gary & Melo replaced Ant & RoCo.

Gary missed an open three (106-102, 1:13 left) and Kanter half-blocked Randle for another jump-ball (same score, :50 left), which Randle tapped out of bounds.

On the next possession, Melo was trapped for what seemed like an eternity before getting bailed out by a foul, resulting in a 108-102 advantage with 30 seconds left. The game played out like this over way too many real-time minutes:

  • Randle quick driving lay-up into Melo (:26.4)

  • Dame fouled immediately, makes both free throws (:25.6)

  • Robinson tip-dunks a floater from Quickley (:19)

  • Melo hits two free throws (:17.9)

  • Quickley draws three free throws from a DJJ foul (:16.6) and makes all three

  • Milliseconds after the free throw (:16.6), Randle fouled out by hitting RoCo in the face. With a closer look, Kanter was kinda grabbing Randle’s arm and sorta caused it to fling into Covington’s face. The play was reviewed for a possible flagrant to no avail, and RoCo made both free throws.

  • Quickley found Robinson for another alley-oop dunk (:10.0)

  • Gary catches the inbound in the backcourt and gets it to Dame, who dribbled in circles, nearly fell down, and got fouled. He hit both free throws to make it 66 straight.

  • Quickley made another lay-in but the Blazers inbounded and the game was over!

Final Thoughts

This game could have been over in the first quarter, but we know the Blazers—always making it hard on themselves. Credit to the Knicks, who deservedly won the second half with their aggressive defense and efficient shot-making.

Player(s) of the Game

It has to be Dame (11/17 FG, 39 pts, 8 ast, 6/10 3pt), but Ant (6/9, 16 pts, 2ast) deserves credit too. In the postgame interview, Dame credited the time off for allowing film study and added practices for his big night.

Next Up

Portland will host the 6-8 Thunder tomorrow night at 7pm.

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