Blazers end road trip with tough loss in MSG, 110-99

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Trail Blazers had some momentum coming into their final game of a six-game road stretch. They had just earned back-to-back wins against quality teams—dropping 132 on the Wizards and stepping up without Damian Lillard to beat the Sixers on Thursday.

Even with Dame back, Saturday’s New York matinee left much to be desired; with the Blazers unable to hit big shots in crunch time against an energetic young Knicks squad.

Lineups

New York: Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, Mitchell Roninson

Portland: Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr., Robert Covington, Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter


Photo via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Photo via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Game Recap

First Quarter

The Blazers opened up 7/14 from behind the arc in the first quarter, including back-to-back Gary Trent bombs. Pretty impressive against the best perimeter defense in the league.

Derrick Jones Jr. made his return to the court after missing the last few games with a left foot sprain. To quell any possible questions of his readiness, DJ nearly jumped over Taj Gibson for an alley-oop dunk attempt.

Before the break, Dame worked the 2-for-1 to perfection, hitting a crowded fadeaway three before splashing a logo three for the final points of the quarter. He led all scorers with 13 as the Blazers took a 31-26 lead into the second.

Second Quarter

As Dame got his first rest to start the second, he grimaced on the sideline holding his hip. He would return at the 5:11 mark of the quarter, although he showed signs of a limp during dead-balls.

Harry Giles earned some hustle points in his first _ minutes, notably causing a scrambled Knicks possession after rushing to double-team Quickley near half-court.

Portland’s small lead was reduced to nothing multiple times, but _

Chasing Oscar Robertson for 12th all-time in NBA points, Carmelo Anthony started 0/5 from the field. Additionally, the Blazers were struggling as a team from the charity stripe, making only four of their first ten free throws.

Despite having to guard Randle on defense, Robert Covington accrued nine points in the first half—all from three-point land. He finished as the team’s third leading scorer behind Dame (16) and Gary (11).

RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton ended the first half with a pair of big threes to put the Knicks up 57-51, their largest of the game. Barrett and Randle led the way for the Knicks with 12 and 10, respectively.

Some key stats were bending New York’s way at the break; including bench points (17-4), points in the paint (28-8), and field goal percentage (55 to 43).

Third Quarter

The Knicks picked up right where they left off, building a double-digit lead before the Blazers got a single bucket. Rodney and Dame broke the cold streak with triples, but both were matched by Randle.

The Blazers wouldn’t quit, keeping the Knicks’ lead under 10, but New York would respond whenever Portland was knocking at the door. How courteous.

RoCo picked up a knock while getting hip-checked trying to fight through a screen. He left the game and sat the rest of the quarter, returning in the fourth.

Elfrid Payton’s nine third quarter points gave the Knicks an 84-76 lead heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

Anfernee Simons cut the lead to six with the first shot of the final period, but Melo’s rough night continued.

After getting called for an extremely questionable foul after a rebound, his protests were met with a technical foul. New York cashed the free throw and a three for huge swing. Two possessions later he was hit with another tough call after blocking Quickley.

Simons continued to step up, hitting another three and getting a tough and-one for nine quick fourth quarter points.

Out of a timeout, the Blazers gave up a straightaway three to Quickley, gifted Bullock a fastbreak layup, and threw the ball out of bounds in the backcourt. Not a great way to erase a deficit.

More turnovers and sh*thousery followed, including a missed would-be-highlight-reel-dunk from DJ and more breakaway points for the Knicks, who built a 14-point lead (their largest of the game). Nothing was going Portland’s way.

Dame desperately tried to build some momentum with a ridiculous and-one circus shot, but a missed free throw from the league’s second-best (95%) seemed fitting for a wholly weird final quarter.

The back-breaker came out of a timeout, where a jumpball-turned-2-on-1-Blazers-fastbreak somehow turned into an ALec Burks three for the Knicks.

A pair of deep Dame threes and a scrappy Gary fade helped cut the lead to seven with two minutes left, but open misses from RoCo, Gary, and Rodney were not encouraging.

The score stayed the same as the clock ticked under a minute, and none of their hopeful threes hit the mark.

Final Thoughts

This was a frustrating one. The Blazers had chance after chance down the stretch, but the shots just wouldn’t fall. I’d revisit the rough patches in the third and fourth quarters as evidence for this loss, though. Despite Portland’s constant injuries, this was a game they could—and should—have won against an inferior opponent. The Knicks are certainly much-improved from years past and look like a lower-seed playoff team, but this was a tough way to split a long road trip, which looked like this:

  • Blown lead in Houston, 104-101 loss

  • Dame saves the Blazers in Chicago, 123-122 win

  • Destroyed by Milwaukee, 134-106 loss

  • Big win against Washington, 132-121 win

  • Blazers beat Philly in Dame’s absence, 121-105 win

  • Tonight’s 110-99 loss

Player(s) of the Game

Damian Lillard’s 29 points and nine assists included six threes on 50% shooting (including some desperate heaves in garbage time), strengthening his case to be an All-Star starter.

Next Up

The Blazers will travel back home and face the 9-14 Orlando Magic on Tuesday at 7pm.

You may also like