After three dispiriting blowout road losses, the Portland Trail Blazers secured a badly needed overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. How would Portland follow that performance up against the New York Knicks tonight?
With a dispiriting blowout road loss.
The Knicks demoralized the Trail Blazers 112-84 in Madison Square Garden to the glee of Luke Wilson and other celebrities in attendance. The Trail Blazers couldn’t stop the Knicks and their cavalry of 3-point shooters who painted the corner all night with swishes. Portland really couldn’t shoot much on its own end, as Anfernee Simons struggled mightily after lighting up the Nets. His teammates didn’t offer much support and the game was over before the third quarter ended, with the Knicks’ largest lead reaching 39.
Jerami Grant was the only Trail Blazer who pitched a decent game on offense, scoring 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Simons was the only other Trail Blazer to reach double figures, scoring 12 on 4-of-14 shooting.
The newest Knick, OG Anunoby had a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Julius Randle added 20, and six different Knicks scored in double figures, including Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes, who each knocked down four 3s.
Here’s the instant rundown of the action, stay tuned later for our extended analysis of the game.
Call it a bad omen possibly, but Scoot Henderson started things off with two consecutive turnovers, the first of which led to a pick-six dunk for Donte DiVincenzo. After Anunoby found an easy dunk in the halfcourt, DiVincenzo hit a corner 3 to give New York an early 7-2 led.
Fortunately for Rip City, Anfernee Simons was still smoking from his heater in Brooklyn the other night. He knocked down his first three attempts: a blow-by drive, a comfortable 3-point flick from the right wing and then a feathery midrange jumper. Simons’ proficiency sustained Portland early, but with Deandre Ayton again out of the lineup, the Trail Blazers struggled to close out defensive possessions with rebounds. With the score at 15-11 at just over the seven-minute mark, Portland coach Chauncey Billups called timeout after a second-chance opportunity led to an Anunoby corner 3.
That play was an early theme: The ball continued to find Anunoby in the corner and he continued to make Portland pay. He was the difference early, scoring 13 points just midway through the quarter and showing the impact of his addition.
With the Knicks pushing to a 28-17 lead, Ibou Badji, in his first minutes of action, emphatically stuffed a Julius Randle block attempt, but Portland couldn’t parlay the momentum into any offensive production.
In the first quarter, New York shot it better from the field and nailed seven 3s to Portland’s two. Evidence of the shooting problems: Shaedon Sharpe’s only two shot attempts in the quarter were airballs. The Knicks also won the turnover battle easily, 6-1. Add all that up, plus 16 first-quarter points for Anunoby, and Portland trailed 38-22.
Another bad omen: New York started the second quarter with an easy Precious Achiuwa slam.
Trying to fight off the omens, Trail Blazers forward Toumani Camara added a jolt of energy, whether it was forcing a steal that led to an and-1 Sharpe slam, helping force a 24-second shot clock violation with hounding defense or swatting a loose ball to Duop Reath for a slam. For a moment, it looked like Portland was starting to swing the momentum back its way, but that was quickly snuffed out by back-to-back corner 3s from New York — 49-30 Knicks lead with 8:12 remaining, timeout Billups.
Those back-to-back 3s sparked an 11-0 run and the Knicks’ biggest lead of the game (so far) at 54-30. Simons tried to manufacture points for the struggling Portland offense, but he began to cool off in a major way, spelling doom for the Trail Blazers. Henderson also had difficulty finishing, and teammates found Badji in the paint multiple times, but he couldn’t seal the deal. Not much was going down, save for the occasional Grant bucket — that was hardly enough against a hot-shooting Knicks team orchestrated by All-Star Jalen Brunson. The point guard would maneuver into the heart of the D, then kick out to shooters or bait defenders into fouls. He was a tough cover for all of Portland’s guards and made the Knicks unselfish offense hum.
To give Portland’s defense credit, the Knicks did cool off some in the back-half of the quarter, going on a long field goal drought. New York still stayed afloat by getting to the line and the Trail Blazers offense still couldn’t hit a rhythm. Portland trailed 63-41 at the half.
Simons and the Trail Blazers remained ice cold to start the third quarter. Throw in a few turnovers from Henderson and Simons and Portland was yelling “mayday!” after Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3 — from the corner, of course — giving the Knicks a 70-44 lead. Initially in the quarter, Portland’s defense held strong, but the offense couldn’t capitalize and the rebounding issues came around again, demoralizing the Trail Blazers’ efforts.
Before you could blink, New York led by 30. Then it was 31. Then it was 34.
A Scoot Henderson 3 mercifully stopped the bleeding, but this one seemed all but over at the midway mark of the third. After this writer elicited responses in the Blazer’s Edge Game Day Thread, reader SheedWeed described the game up to this point as feckless. Reader BlazerQuestXX55 jumped on that with the description toothless. And reader mattmcc80 went with the simple, yet effective, lopsided.
The Knicks’ lead reached as high as 39 in the quarter. When the buzzer sounded, it read 97-61.
The Trail Blazers opened the fourth quarter with nearly all Rip City Remixers in the lineup: Badji, Camara, Kris Murray, Rayan Rupert and Justin Minaya. They got some experience, but produced no miracles in 12 minutes.
Final score: Knicks win 112-84.
Stay tuned for extended analysis coming soon!
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Trail Blazers. Portland’s next game is an away tilt against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for a little after 5 p.m. PST.