After beginning their five-game West Coast swing with two brutal losses, the New York Knicks headed to the Rose Garden for a tilt with the Portland Trail Blazers. Clad in their "Rip City" jerseys, Portland came away with the 105-90 victory.
The Knicks' starting five on Thursday was one of the worst lineups fielded by any team in the NBA this year: Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland, Kurt Thomas and Kenyon Martin.
With Amar'e Stoudemire already out for the rest of the regular season, Carmelo Anthony was back in New York with a drowning right knee and, Tyson Chandler did not dress because of a contusion to his left knee.
As a result, J.R. Smith led all scorers with 33 points.
The Knicks had been victimized by numerous point guards this year, so Damian Lillard—the consensus choice for Rookie of the Year—presented a terrible matchup for them. Unsurprisingly, Lillard finished with 26 points and 10 assists.
J.J. Hickson had 12 points and 15 rebounds, and all five Portland starters scored in double digits...through three quarters. LaMarcus Aldridge also notched a double-double as the Knicks D-League lineup allowed numerous Blazers to post pretty stats.
New York performed admirably in the early going and succeeded in limiting their turnovers, but Portland closed out the first half on a 13-0 run for a 51-48 lead.
New York had been dominating the points in the paint by a 22-10 margin before the run, but they allowed the Blazers to score 10 in the paint in final three minutes of the second quarter.
Then the Knicks failed to emerge from the locker room after the half. Just six minutes into the third quarter, the Knicks were losing by 10. They were down by 16 entering the fourth.
The final 12 minutes were inconsequential even though the Knicks made it somewhat interesting.
After trailing by just seven with six minutes remaining, Portland scored eight straight points over the next 82 seconds, capped by a Nicolas Batum triple to ice the game.
Though Portland are just 30-34, they are very tough at home, playing 10 games over .500. The Blazers are now just three games out of the last playoff spot, which could be up for grabs because of Kobe Bryant's severely sprained ankle.
The Knicks have been in a tailspin lately. They are 20-20 since December 16 and were utterly routed by the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets in their past two contests. New York currently sits in third place, but they came in just four games ahead of seventh place.