Trail Blazers-Knicks Preview
The New York Knicks acquired Amar’e Stoudemire hoping he could
return them to relevance and energize their frustrated fan
Stoudemire gets his first chance to prove to the Madison Square
Garden faithful that he can match the hype as the Knicks face the
Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
New York (1-1) has been a franchise in decay for much of the
last nine seasons, reaching the playoffs once while failing to post
a winning record. The club also struck out in its bid to land one
of the top free agents last summer despite reports it was
positioned to sign LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade.
Instead, the Knicks settled on Stoudemire, a five-time All-Star
who spent the last eight seasons with Phoenix – five playing for
current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.
“It’s about challenges and this is definitely the ultimate
challenge for myself to eventually bring the Knicks back to where
they rightfully belong,” Stoudemire said at his introductory news
conference in July.
Through two games, Stoudemire is proving he can be a significant
part of the Knicks’ revitalization. The forward scored 19 points
and grabbed 10 rebounds with two blocks in a season-opening 98-93
win at Toronto on Wednesday. He followed that up two nights later
with 27 points and eight boards while swatting away two more shots
in a 105-101 loss at Boston.
While Stoudemire is considered the main offensive cog for New
York, Wilson Chandler is providing a spark off the bench, averaging
20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds through two games. The forward had a
career-high 15.3 points per game last season, while adding 5.4
That support could come in handy as Stoudemire looks to make a
strong impression in his MSG debut with the Knicks, who have
dropped six of eight home openers.
New York went 18-23 at MSG last season and faces a stiff test
against the Trail Blazers (2-0), who are looking for their first
3-0 start since opening the 1999-200 season with four wins.
The Knicks have dropped six of seven overall to Portland, and
the home team won both meetings last season.
The Trail Blazers are out to spoil another home debut after
beating the Los Angeles Clippers 98-88 on Wednesday in Blake
Griffin’s first game. The performance came a night after Portland
opened the season with a 106-92 victory over Phoenix.
Brandon Roy is a big reason for the Blazers’ strong start,
totaling 46 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists through two
games. The swingman is averaging 25.3 points in four games at New
He’s also been getting strong support from Nicolas Batum, who
had 15 points and six boards against the Clippers after posting 19
and 11, respectively, in the season opener. The French swingman
averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds while injuries limited him to
37 games last season – his second in the NBA.
Batum had 20 points in a 118-90 win over the Knicks in the most
recent meeting March 31.