Lillard leads rested Trail Blazers past Knicks 116-113
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 39 points, including six 3-pointers, and the rested Portland Trail Blazers jumped out early against the New York Knicks on the way to a 116-113 victory on Sunday night.
Anfernee Simons added 16 points off the bench for the Blazers, who led by as many as 25 points before seeing their advantage slip away in the final quarter.
Rookie Immanuel Quickley scored 31 points off the bench and Julius Randle added 25 for the Knicks.
Quickley's 3 pointer got the Knicks within 96-91 with 7:13 left. But Robert Covington's layup and Lillard's 3-pointer put Portland up 101-91.
Randle's layup narrowed it to 106-98 with 2:39 to go. Quickley hit three free throws to make it 106-102 with 1:33 left.
After Mitchell Robinson's dunk with 19 seconds left, former Knick Carmelo Anthony made a pair of free throws to extend Portland's lead to 112-106.
Quickley dished to Robinson for an alley-oop dunk to narrow New York's deficit to 114-111 with 10 seconds left, but in the end, the Knicks couldn't catch up.
“If you watch the games around the league, it happens every night,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said about watching the lead dwindle. “There are teams every night that are up 20 points, 15 points and the lead evaporates in some way. As a coach you don't want it to happen, obviously, but the biggest thing is managing it when it does happen.”
The Blazers (9-6) were still adjusting to the loss of guard CJ McCollum with a hairline fracture in his left foot. Rodney Hood started in McCollum's place for the second game. Portland was also without big man Jusuf Nurkic because of a right wrist fracture.
Despite being short-handed, the Blazers were well-rested after a pair of scheduled games last week against Memphis were postponed because of coronavirus protocol and contact tracing among the Grizzlies.
“It was the kind of game we needed to play, especially with CJ and Nurk being out,” Lillard said. “That second group, they came out and they were sharp, they were making shots, the ball was moving. We were active in our zone. It was the way we needed to play.”
Portland's last game was a 125-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs last Monday.
The Knicks (8-10) were without Reggie Bullock because of a sore neck. Frank Ntilikina, who has been out since Dec. 29 because of a sprained right knee, was available but did not play. Austin Rivers returned after missing two games with a sore right Achilles.
Lillard was hot at the start, scoring 10 points as the Blazers built an early 19-11 lead. Portland was up 37-24 after the opening quarter.
Portland led by as many as 22 points in the first half, going into the break with a 70-50 advantage. Lillard led all scorers with 18 points and was 3 for 3 from 3-point range — passing Chauncy Billups for 16th on the all-time list for made 3s.
The Knicks rallied in the third quarter, pulling within 82-69 on RJ Barrett's layup. They outscored Portland 27-19 and went into the final period trailing 89-77.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Lillard was a challenge.
“He's seen just about every type of defense and he doesn't stop moving. If you get it out of his hands he'll fly back to it,” Thibodeau said. “He's a terrific player.”
Knicks: It was the third of a four-game trip. ... The Knicks went into the game with the league's second-best defensive rating. ... New York was coming off a 103-94 loss at Sacramento on Friday. ... Randle fouled out with 16.6 seconds left.
Trail Blazers: Lillard was 11-for-11 from the free thrown line. He has broken his own franchise record (64) for consecutive free throws made. He now has 66.
DADDY DAME: Lillard announced on Instagram that he and his fiancee welcomed twins on Thursday. He wrote “Just call me Daddy Dame from now on.” The couple already has a toddler, Damian Jr.
“Obviously I've had Dame Jr. almost three years now, and I think, well I don't think, I know that the thing I enjoy the most is being his dad and going home to him every night and being around him every day. That's something that I think has allowed me to be a better player, because I don't take wins and losses home.”
The Knicks visit the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
The Trail Blazers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
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