Knicks-Trail Blazers Preview
C.J. McCollum is doing all he can to keep Portland afloat. He regrouped from a tough five-game stretch by catching fire in the last two, the latest helping the Trail Blazers salvage a .500 road trip.
Portland hopes to carry the momentum into a quick stop at home, starting on Saturday night against the sinking New York Knicks.
McCollum shot 29.0 percent and averaged 15.6 points from the final game of November through the first four in December. In his last two, though, the third-year guard has made 20 of 34 shots and 9 of 16 from 3-point range en route to 50 points.
His effort in Friday's 106-96 victory at Phoenix helped Portland (10-14) snap a two-game skid and close its road trip at 2-2. McCollum poured in 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, while knocking down 5 of 8 from long range.
McCollum and Damian Lillard, averaging 44.1 points, each hit 3-pointers during a key 13-0 run in the fourth quarter.
''We've been through this before many games where we've been up or been close at the end and squandered leads,'' McCollum said. ''So I think it was really important for us to really focus on the defensive end and then offensively get good shots, run some clock.''
Portland finished 12 for 34 from 3-point range, making it five of six games and six of eight the Trail Blazers have made at least 10 3s.
They have won 13 of 16 against the Knicks and six straight, including three in a row at home. New York is 2-12 in its last 14 trips to Portland.
The Blazers are 5-5 at home and will try to win two straight there for the first time this season. They'll host New Orleans on Monday night before starting another five-game road trip in Oklahoma City.
The Knicks (10-14) won four games in a row in mid-November to climb above .500 but have lost eight of 10 since. The slide includes a pair of four-game losing streaks, the latest extended by a missed call at the end of Thursday's 99-97 loss at Sacramento.
The NBA said on Friday that Carmelo Anthony was fouled with 2.9 seconds left prior to his shooting motion on a 3-pointer that clanked off the rim.
"It was still a clean look... I got the ball up there," said Anthony, who has made just 34.3 percent of his shots the last four games. "Anything other than that I'd rather not speak on."
It was the Knicks' fifth straight road loss and puts them in danger of a winless three-game trip after opening with Wednesday's 106-85 loss at Utah, a game the Knicks trailed by as many as 33 points.
New York trailed by 19 in the third quarter in Sacramento. The Kings scored 23 points off 18 turnovers and outscored the Knicks 62-26 in the paint.
"We make some corrections on that, along with some other things, we walk out of here with a win," Anthony said.