New York Knicks vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2013

Nov 25, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum (88) drives to the basket against the New York Knicks at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

The Portland Trail Blazers are absolutely on fire right now. The latest victim in their 11-game winning streak was the free-falling New York Knicks. The Blazers beat the Knicks 102-91 Monday night.

Portland never completely pulled away, but they were in control of the game throughout. The team was led by Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum, who each scored 23 points and dished six assists.

On the other side, the Knicks were solid offensively. They had five players reach double figures and shot 40 percent from three-point range.

The problem for New York came on the defensive end. Every time they needed a big stop, they gave up a big bucket.


Key Player Grades

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 25: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 25, 2013 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading an
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, Small Forward/Power Forward

You have to feel for Melo at this point. He's doing everything he can to help the Knicks win, but it just hasn't been enough. In fact, it hasn't been close to enough. And that's crazy, because Melo's doing a lot.

Monday night, he went off for 34 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 13-of-25 from the field. 

He was hitting classic Melo jump shots, grabbing not-so-classic-Melo rebounds and just generally attacking on both ends of the floor.

Unfortunately, he just didn't get enough support from his teammates. At this point, that has to be very frustrating. 

Grade: A


Andrea Bargnani, New York Knicks, Power Forward/Center

Once again, Andrea Bargnani was solid as a scorer, but he has to start providing more. He had 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting. But the 7-footer grabbed just six rebounds in 43 minutes of action. 

On top of that, Bargnani often finds himself terribly out of position on defense, either rotating late or not at all.

The lack of rebounding and help defense from one of the starting big men is really weighing on the team.

Grade: C


J.R. Smith, New York Knicks, Shooting Guard

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 25: J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks handles the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 25, 2013 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

After shooting 2-of-8 from the field against Portland, J.R. Smith is now shooting a putrid 32.1 percent on the season.

The one thing Smith is supposed to consistently deliver is scoring. Obviously, he's not doing that. And every terrible shot is essentially a turnover. The long fadeaway threes turn into long rebounds that are easier for opposing teams to run with.

Grade: F


Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks, Shooting Guard/Small Forward

In 23 minutes of action, Iman Shumpert posted a plus/minus rating of minus-22. He went 0-of-3 from the field, scoring zero points, grabbing zero rebounds and totaling zero assists.

It would be tough to pick out something good Shumpert did Monday night, and he's certainly not playing his way out of the trade rumor mill (or maybe he is if no other team wants him).

Grade: F


Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks, Power Forward/Center

In all the Knicks games I've covered, Amar'e Stoudemire has been fairly effective in extremely limited minutes. Monday night, he scored 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes.

Putting up more shots than points is never a good thing, but it's looking more and more like Stoudemire might be the consistent third wheel New York needs on offense after Bargnani and Anthony. Even a steady 13-to-14 points a game would help.

Grade: B-


Kenyon Martin, New York Knicks, Power Forward/Center

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 25: Kenyon Martin #3 of the New York Knicks shoots against Robin Lopez #42 of the Portland Trail Blazers on November 25, 2013 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Like Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin has been forced to play in a pretty limited role. Against the Blazers, it looked like it shouldn't have been quite so limited.

In 24 minutes, Martin scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, dished six assists and grabbed five rebounds. He played with the kind of energy we've come to always expect from him on both ends of the floor.

Then Mike Woodson decided to go away from him for the majority of the second half. I get that you can't have six guys on the floor, but you have to find a way to play the most effective big man.

Grade: A


Beno Udrih, New York Knicks, Point Guard

As is the case with pretty much the entire Knicks team, Beno Udrih was great on offense and terrible on defense.

He scored 13 points, tallied five assists, collected five rebounds and shot 5-of-7 from the field. 

The problem was the same as it's been in every game he's started. Udrih gets torched by opposing point guards.

Grade: B


Bench, New York Knicks

Altogether, the Knicks bench went 8-of-25 from the field. Bench players not named Smith or Stoudemire went 1-of-5.

The second unit didn't do much, if anything, to give New York a shot against Portland.

Grade: F


Nov 25, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots over New York Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin (3) at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers, Power Forward/Center

LaMarcus Aldridge hasn't been shooting the ball very well lately, but he's stepped up in other areas.

Monday night, he shot just 7-of-20 from the field, but he grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked two shots and had a huge effect on the game.

Grade: B+


Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Point Guard

Portland's star point guard hit a few big shots and pretty much maintained control of the game throughout Monday night's showdown with the Knicks.

On top of the already mentioned 23 points and six assists, Lillard also grabbed four boards and swiped a steal.

Grade: B+


Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers, Small Forward

Batum doesn't get the credit he deserves as a point forward.

Because Lillard is more of a shoot-first guard, Batum often plays the role of facilitator. He does it quite well for a forward. He's second on the team in assists at five a game and he has the ball in his hands far less than the leading assist man Lillard.

Monday night, he did a lot of his damage as a scorer. He shot 8-of-12 from the field to get to his 23 points.

But he also contributed seven rebounds and six assists.

Grade: A


Wesley Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers, Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Nov 25, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) gestures after making a three point basket against the New York Knicks at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

Talk about underrated. 

Wesley Matthews has been the absolute best three-and-D guy in the league this season. He's averaging 17.3 points, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 50.6 percent from three-point range and generally defending the opposition's toughest wing.

Monday night, the D part wasn't so hot, as Melo scored a bundle of his 35 against Matthews. But really, who can guard Anthony?

Offensively, he wasn't his typically scorching self, but 6-of-14 for 17 points is solid and a couple of his makes were big New York momentum killers.

Grade: B


Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers, Center

Robin Lopez is all your favorite basketball cliches: energy guy, does the little things, makes the plays that don't show up in the box score. You get it.

Every great team needs one of these walking cliches. Lopez knows that playing defense and setting screens will lead to a lot of wins, but not to getting a lot of attention in the wins.

Against the Knicks, he was 3-of-6 from the field for nine points and had seven rebounds.

Grade: B-


Dorell Wright, Portland Trail Blazers, Small Forward

The Blazers were without their regular sixth man against the Knicks, as Mo Williams missed the game due to a suspension for his involvement in an altercation with the Golden State Warriors.

Dorell Wright stepped in and played the most minutes (13) off the bench of any Trail Blazer, scoring eight points on 2-of-4 shooting and playing solid defense on the perimeter.

Grade: B-


Bench, Portland Trail Blazers

This team hasn't showed many weaknesses in 2013-14, but an old one may come creeping up pretty soon.

Last season, the Blazers had the lowest-scoring bench in the NBA. While they did upgrade it a bit this offseason, it still doesn't look contender level.

Against the Knicks, the bench shot 4-of-12 from the field and scored just 12 of Portland's 102 points.

Grade: C-


What's Next?

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks takes a break after being fouled by Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden on November 20, 2013 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images


The Knicks will face the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.

It will take a monumental effort to upend the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, particularly since their best player is a point guard. Beno Udrih is going to be lost trying to slow Chris Paul down.

If the Knicks can get any consistency from someone other than Melo, they might have an outside chance.


Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers have a matchup on the road against the surprising Phoenix Suns at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The Suns play solid defense and like to run off the stops they get. A track meet in Phoenix could be in the cards.

One of the Suns' key weapons is the three-point shot, but the Blazers can match them there. At 41.8, the Blazers are third in the league in three-point percentage.


For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.