Knicks 93, Trail Blazers 84
The Portland Trail Blazers came to New York without their
franchise center and coach, both forced to have surgery a day apart
in the same city.
That doesn’t mean they showed up with no hope.
Larry Hughes scored 21 points, David Lee had 17 points and 10
rebounds, and the Knicks refused to take the injury-depleted Trail
Blazers lightly, winning 93-84 on Monday night for their
season-high third straight victory.
“I don’t care how many injuries Portland has, as long as they
still have (Brandon) Roy and (LaMarcus) Aldridge, they’re going to
be a tough team,” Lee said. “Remember, they were a playoff team
in the West so we had a tough task in front of us tonight.”
Not as tough as the Trail Blazers did, because Portland’s
injuries start at the center spot and extend right through the
Greg Oden had season-ending surgery Sunday after breaking his
left kneecap in a victory over Houston. Rudy Fernandez (sciatic
pain) also was out, joining Travis Outlaw (broken left foot) and
Nicolas Batum (right shoulder surgery).
And coach Nate McMillan wasn’t around either after having
surgery Monday in Vancouver, Wash. McMillan ruptured his right
Achilles’ tendon during practice Friday after taking the floor with
a team missing so many bodies.
“It’s not normal,” acting head coach Dean Demopoulos said.
“But life throws you curveballs sometimes and if you can’t hit a
curveball, you don’t belong here. We’re lacking some really fine
basketball players that are injured right now.”
Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler each added 14 points as the
Knicks won for the fourth time in five games, continuing to play
better basketball after coach Mike D’Antoni shortened his rotation
and found a group willing to defend.
“Once you start playing and winning and having hope, a lot of
this is psychological,” D’Antoni said. “They just have a better
feeling about themselves and more confidence, and I think too as we
go forward we should be able to get better.”
Roy scored 27 points and Aldridge had 19 points and 13 rebounds
for the Trail Blazers, who will be run by Demopoulos on their
four-game road trip. He had only nine players and surely could’ve
used the defense of Oden, who is second in the NBA in blocked shots
and fourth in field-goal percentage.
Anybody would have helped in the third quarter, when the Knicks
closed the period with an 18-4 spurt to open a 78-55 bulge on
Hughes’ 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left. New York outscored
Portland 60-37 across the middle two quarters and was 13 of 26 from
3-point range for the game to snap a five-game losing streak in the
Portland tried to muster a rally, pulling within nine midway
through the fourth after consecutive baskets by Jerryd Bayless.
Gallinari ended the run with a 3-pointer, then fed Hughes for a
three-point play that quickly made it 86-71 with 5:40
“It’s tough, but we’re not going to make excuses,” Roy said.
“It took us about a half to get it going. I think we played a good
fourth quarter, so hopefully we can carry that over to the next
The Blazers are accustomed to playing without the injury-prone
Oden, but the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft had been playing his
best basketball this season. And perhaps the shock of seeing him go
down again Saturday, coupled with the absence of McMillan, was too
much to overcome.
“It’s been tough, but most of all I think we have guys who can
play,” Aldridge said. “Once we get everyone comfortable, we’ll be
New York shot 37 percent but held Portland to 30 percent in the
first quarter, which ended in an 18-all tie. The shooting was
better in the second, but the Knicks still made plenty of key plays
defensively to open a comfortable lead.
Jared Jeffries twice stepped in to draw charges. Chris Duhon
dived on the floor to come up with a loose ball, starting a play
that ended with Gallinari finding Al Harrington alone under the
basket for a dunk.
The Knicks shot 61 percent and led by as much as 12 before
taking a 49-38 advantage into halftime.
NOTES: The Blazers said McMillan is expected to return when they
host Sacramento on Dec. 15. … The Knicks had been 0-5 in the
second game when playing on back-to-back days. They beat New Jersey
106-97 on Sunday. … Knicks center Eddy Curry was back in uniform
but didn’t play after he was inactive for the last seven games
because of a sore left knee. He wasn’t expected to suit up again
until the Knicks visit New Orleans on Friday so he could get some
practice time first.