Portland was never really in this one and trailed by double digits most of the evening.
Josh Hart led the road team with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Kris Dunn was another bright spot in a dark place, adding 13 points and seven assists off the bench.
The Blazers struggled early to compete with the Knicks’ size at both ends. While Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle might not be everyday heavyweights in the frontcourt, they might as well have been Evander Holyfield tonight against Portland’s, let’s say sleeker counterparts. The Blazers tried to get things going by generating offense at the rim, but the arachnid-like reach of Robinson left them mostly stifled. This forced Portland into jump shooting mode with only ho-hum results. Hart yet again got off to a hot start, knocking down two threes on his way to 10 points in the quarter, but he was about the only Blazer to get it going.
Meanwhile, Portland had no answer for the outside shooting of RJ Barrett, who knocked down four triples and bested Hart with 14 of his game-high 31 points. When the ball didn’t find the bottom of the net, Robinson and Randle were usually there, throwing Blazers about and brute forcing their way into extra opportunities for the Knicks.
New York held on to a comfortable 37-29 lead after one.
Portland did a better job of not letting New York do absolutely everything they wanted in the second quarter, but still fell short of slowing them down. The Knicks rode with their backups for most of the period, and why not. Immanuel Quickley seemed to be a blur to Blazer defenders who occasionally looked like a confused Wile E.-Coyote as Road Runner runs circles around him. The only thing missing was the hand-drawn “Help Me!” sign.
Quickley only ended up with six points in the quarter, but it was enough to help New York keep extending their lead. Dunn and Hart provided a small boost to the energy level by ratcheting up the tempo and manufacturing some offense in transition, but the Blazers weren’t able to get many stops at the other end. Portland managed 26 points in the quarter, but allowed 29, heading into the break trailing 66-55.
The Blazers almost threatened to make a game of it after a mini Brandon Williams-led run cut the Knicks’ lead to single digits at 81-72 on a darting layup, but that ended up being Portland’s last gasp. The Blazers only scored once more over the final nearly four minutes of the period while Randle continued to be a force majeure for New York. Portland just didn’t have anybody with the strength to get between him and the basket without risking physical harm, or worse, embarrassment. CJ Elleby might be bigger than he looks at a glance, but to a posting-up Randle he’s a fly on a a rhinoceros’ back. The Blazers opted to just hack when he got into the paint and live with the results.
The Knicks ended the quarter on a 13-2 run and went into the final frame with a commanding 94-74 advantage.
The fourth quarter was inconsequential.
Stay tuned for extended analysis from the game, coming soon!
The Blazers will get a day off in NYC before taking on the Brooklyn Nets Friday evening at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.