There’s nothing like playing the New York Knicks for an ailing team, as the Portland Trail Blazers found out on Tuesday night—cruising to a 115-87 victory to snap a two-game losing streak. The Blazers shot over 40% from three and yielded the fewest points by an opponent this season in a blowout, their first win since Rodney Hood’s Achilles injury.
Damian Lillard led the way with 31 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. Julius Randle was the high-man for New York, scoring 15 on his own on 6-11 shooting.
The Blazers got off to a slow start defensively, but jumped out to an early lead thanks to some sharp shooting from Lillard, who hit back-to-back triples around the eight-minute mark. Whiteside then made his presence felt at both ends of the court—scoring six points (on 3-5 shooting) with seven rebounds and three blocks. A pair of late Lillard threes gave the Blazers a 32-22 lead at the end of the period. Lillard had 17 points in the opening stanza, while the Knicks shot just 35%.
The Blazers came out cold to start the second quarter, but the Knicks weren’t able to take advantage. Despite making just two field goals over the first six minutes of the period, both by Anfernee Simons, the Blazers never saw their lead cut below five points. The Knicks couldn’t buy a bucket, going extended stretches without a make. Portland was able to draw a myriad of fouls and saw their lead balloon at the free-throw line—going 13-15 from the charity stripe in the quarter to take a 60-41 lead into halftime.
The Blazers never gave New York so much as a chance to back into it over the final 24 minutes, extended their lead to as many as 32 points, emptying their bench and coasting to victory. They capped-off the blowout with an impressive highlight-reel alley-oop:
Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside
Lillard turned in a classic performance in only 29 minutes. He set the tone and finished 8-12 from distance on the night to put the Knicks away early. Meanwhile, Whiteside finished with an efficient 7-11 shooting line, doing his damage in the paint. The Knicks didn’t have an answer for either player, and Portland made them pay.
The lopsided margin allowed Blazers coach Terry Stotts to experiment with different lineups, at one point playing both Whiteside and Labissiere on the floor at the same time. It also allowed little-used players like Gary Trent Jr. and Jaylen Hoard to see the court, and while Trent struggled (going 0-5), Hoard showed some promise. With Hood’s injury, these two specifically could see more playing time, so it was a good chance to get their feet wet in game action.
Simons, who has cooled after his hot start, stepped up in a big way—going for 16 points on just 5-9 shooting in 29 minutes off the bench. You hope he can use this performance to try and regain his shooting form from earlier in the season, as he too will take on a bigger role.
Carmelo Anthony struggled against his former team, going just 5-13 from the field and forcing shots in a way he hasn’t since arriving in Portland. In a night full of positives, it was a bit of a red flag, but nothing to be overly alarmed about.
As Bad As Advertised
The Knicks entered the game with with both the league’s worst record and field goal percentage, and stayed true to form on Tuesday night. They shot just 35% for the game while going 7-38 from distance, missing both contested and easy looks. Rookie RJ Barrett had a particularly rough night, going just 1-9 from the floor.
The Blazers travel to the Mile High City for a tilt with the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.