Without their leading scorer, the Portland Trail Blazers have used the three-point shot to win games. That strategy paid off in spades against the visiting New York Knicks.
Wesley Matthews had 28 points, Nicolas Batum had 17 and the Blazers easily defeated the Knicks, 101-79, Sunday night at Moda Center.
The three point bombardment committee went to work in the first quarter. One game after hoisting 43 threes versus Philadelphia, the Blazers shot nine of them in the first quarter, draining six of them. Matthews led the barrage with three 3s and 13 points overall. Behind their fierce attack, Portland took an early 11-2 lead and led 31-22 after one.
Portland cooled off somewhat in the second quarter, but they still hit five 3s. Batum had two of them for 12 in the first half, while Matthews came into halftime with 19. Chris Kaman, who missed Friday's game versus the 76ers with his newborn son, had seven in the half. With their efforts, the Blazers extended their lead to 14 at the break.
The Blazers pushed their lead to as far as 26 in the third quarter with Batum, Kaman and Matthews each scoring five in the period. Cole Aldrich did his best to keep the Knicks in the game, but Carmelo Anthony did not return from halftime with a knee injury. Portland led by 18 at the end of three.
Portland played the final quarter in cruise control with some big moments from Joel Freeland giving the fans something to watch as the Blazers finished off the squad from New York. Freeland finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double.
Damian Lillard finished with 11 points and six assists. Kaman had 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
This is why it's so awesome to match last year's record at this point. The league knows who the Blazers are this time around, there’s been no surprise factor like the one we had last year. AND we’ve done it again with injuries forcing us to start different lineups. It’s remarkable.
LOL England is well represented tonight, as Freeland is colonizing New York
Will hits a pair!
by Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein
That's Batum's job.
The Trail Blazers are the first NBA team to reach 25 wins this season. #RipCity— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 29, 2014
Portland remains perfect against the Eastern Conference at home (8-0) and improves to 14-1 overall vs. the East this season.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 29, 2014
Jokingly, Stotts says Matthews "ran out of arrows in the second half." #RipCity #BlazersTalk— CSNNW (@CSNNW) December 29, 2014
With tonight's win, #Blazers are 3-1 in games in which two starters were out this season.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) December 29, 2014
Chris Kaman saying that, after his wife went through 36 hours of labor, he has an increased respect for women.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 29, 2014
Kaman watched Blazers win Friday in the delivery room. "CJ: You hold her hand or watch the game? Kaman: I was watching the game."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 29, 2014
Stotts said he thought Wes Matthews "ran out of arrows" in the 2nd half. Wes: "Next one I make I'm shooting right at him"— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 29, 2014
Batum played well last 2 gms as his family is in town...when it was suggested he not send them home he joked: "I don't think so." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 29, 2014
Mischef Managed @wessywes2 #HarryPotter #Marauders #RobinHood #RIPCITY pic.twitter.com/kEltdHFEpv— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) December 29, 2014
3rd consecutive season #Blazers swept the #Knicks ... 2nd time in franchise history they accomplished that feat.— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 29, 2014
The Trail Blazers are the first NBA team to ever record 16 or more 3-pointers in three consecutive games (Dec. 23-28).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 29, 2014
The @trailblazers r now tied with the @warriors & @raptors for most double-digit wins in the NBA this season. Each have 16!— Brian Wheeler (@blazerwheels) December 29, 2014
Said Matthews on the game: "These are games that we have to win. That's what takes good teams to great, great teams to elite.” #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 29, 2014
VIDEO: Wesley Matthews knocks down a three pointer from the wing early in the second quarter.
VIDEO: Nicolas Batum gets back on track with a three from the corner.
VIDEO: Joel Freeland swats away Tim Hardaway Jr.'s layup.
VIDEO: Wesley Matthew hits a wide open three pointer early in the fourth quarter.