Damian Lillard scored 32 points and the Portland Trail Blazers wrapped up a strong five-game road trip with their third straight victory, beating the New York Knicks 103-91 on Monday night.
Pat Connaughton added 17 for the Trail Blazers, who also won at Memphis, Brooklyn and Washington while losing only in Philadelphia. They needed to come from 17 down in the fourth quarter to beat the Wizards last time out but were in charge of this one most of the way.
Kristaps Porzingis returned from a one-game absence and scored 22 points, but the Knicks were without starting center Enes Kanter for a third straight game because of back spasms. They lost all three, falling back to .500 at 10-10.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED pic.twitter.com/nZrGqHurfV- Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 28, 2017
KP 💦- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 28, 2017
11-9 early lead for the home squad. pic.twitter.com/d6moXG4yrV
The Knicks blew big early leads in the last two losses, in Atlanta and Houston, but mostly played from behind - sometimes way behind - Monday. New York never led by more than two and trailed by as much as 26.
Lillard made the last basket of the third quarter and he won't have any easier ones all season. Shabazz Napier stole the ball while the Knicks were on the fast break and threw it down to Lillard, who had remained behind on the other end. He dunked the ball with no other players on that side of the court to make it 90-64.
The Knicks couldn't guard him when they were close by, either. Lillard had 17 points in the third on 5-of-7 shooting. >> Read more
Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press
Jake Brown | Twitter |
The Knicks put themselves into too big a hole. They have come back from double-digit deficits this season, but never down 26 points with 12 minutes to play. That's almost impossible to do. They played horribly for the first three quarters, looking lethargic on offense and forcing almost no turnovers on defense. The Blazers were moving the ball smoothly and creating open shots. The Knicks had no answer.
This team has struggled lately. The Knicks either trail entering the fourth quarter and need to fight back, or they are up double digits in the first half and blow it in the second half. They need to find out how to play a strong game all four quarters. Also, Jeff Hornacek is going to have to figure out what rotations he wants to use with Joakim Noah back and Michael Beasley playing well offensively. It's making things more difficult.
Now more than ever is showing how badly this team needs Kanter. Willy Hernangomez has been exposed against opposing defenses inside. The Knicks don't have that interior presence without Kanter, and they have no toughness down there whatsoever. Kanter needs to return soon because this team needs his presence on both ends. The Knicks don't have easy buckets in the post without him. They have shown they can't win with any key players hurt. If they don't have everyone out there, they won't win games consistently. Health will be key to this team making the playoffs.
The Knicks face the Miami Heat on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.