The Portland Trail Blazers used a team effort to take down the New York Knicks tonight by the score of 111-101. Jusuf Nurkic led the way for Portland with 20 points in just 19 minutes, but it was Portland’s depth that made the difference. In one of the most complete wins of the year, the Blazers finished with nine players scoring seven points or more. Damian Lillard chipped in 17 and 9 assists while Jake Layman finished with his first career double-double.
The First Half
The Knicks are not a very good team but watching the first half, it was hard to differentiate which team was in a battle for a playoff spot and which team was going to be lucky to win 25 games this year. The Blazers looked unmotivated. They were consistently late on defense, which led to easy baskets and fouls. The Knicks shot 20 free throws in the first half alone. New York played with energy but didn't exactly play well. Portland shot a respectable 37% from deep in the first half but their overall effort was pretty lackluster. The bright spot for the Blazers was 24 bench points on 8 of 16 shots. Any time the Blazers get some life out of their second unit is a good sign.
Portland was on cruise control for most of the first half, knowing they could turn it on if they needed to. Fortunately, they were able to flip the Damian Lillard switch in the second half and built up a lead that New York would never seriously threaten. Portland has had more success against good teams this year than bad ones, so the lackadaisical body language didn’t build confidence. But all in all, Portland took care of business, got the win, and got contributions from nearly everyone that played. We’ll take it.
Damian Lillard - The Knicks made a point to jump Lillard off on the pick-and-roll early and aggressively. Lillard responded by getting rid of the ball early, which turned out to favor New York. Lillard entered the break with just six points and four shots attempted. Dame turned it up in the third quarter and pushed Portland to an insurmountable 16-point third quarter lead. Dame finished with 17 points and 9 assists
Jake Layman - It’s no longer a stretch to say Jake Layman is one of the most effective players on Portland’s second unit. Layman was rewarded by starting the second half at small forward. Anyone who predicted that Layman would be the lone Blazer to finish with a double-double, cheers to you! He finished with 10 points, 10 boards, and 4 assists.
The Blazers Bench - Portland got support up and down their rotation tonight and that was the difference. Jake Layman wasn’t the only played off the bench making a difference. Evan Turner chipped in 10, Seth Curry had 13, Meyers Leonard finished with 9, and Zach Collins added 7 points and 6 rebounds. Solid day for the reserves.
Noah Vonleh - Vonleh came out aggressive early against his former team, and made his impact felt. He finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and hit a trio of threes. If his goal was to make a statement to the team that shed his salary in the middle of last year, message received.
The Blazers continue their home stand and welcome in the Chicago Bulls to the Moda Center on Wednesday