Blazers do just enough to beat Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers 94, NEW YORK KNICKS 90
Wednesday night, Madison Square Garden, 19,812 announced attendance (sellout)
Are the Blazers ready for Indiana?
Portland tried to sharpen its game and win for the first time in five road tries on Wednesday, and the Blazers were by and large successful.
The win over the Knickerbockers makes Portland 1-1 on a four-game trip which has its next stop at the Eastern Conference Pacers (38-10, 23-2 at home) on Friday.
The highlights for Portland vs. NY? Defense, scoring by Wesley Matthews, a good overall floor game by Nicolas Batum, periods of good team ball movement and a key late turnaround jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge over Tyson Chandler.
Those things were enough to dissuade the Knicks, who cut an 11-point deficit to one in the fourth quarter, as the Blazers went colder they shot 38 percent from the field for the game only to recover just in the nick of time.
Oh, and New York star Carmelo Anthony not only did not score in the fourth quarter (0 for 5 FGs), but he also had zero assists for the game.
WHAT IT MEANS
Portland is 35-14, third in the NBA Western Conference. Oklahoma City leads at 40-11, having won nine of its last 10 games. San Antonio, which has won three in a row, is 36-13.
The Blazers are 17-3 against the Eastern Conference.
Aldridge's "J" from 18 feet on his favorite left side of the halfcourt with 35.5 seconds left pushed Portland's lead to four after two miscues led two a pair of NY 3-pointers down the stretch.
Batum finished with a team-high 20 points, making 9 of 14 field-goal attempts. He aso had 10 rebounds, five assists
Matthews totaled 18 points, 14 in the first half.
Portland's bench was more productive than it has been in recent games, and Dorrel Wright and Meyers Leonard returned to the rotation. Wright helped with six points and two assists in 13 minutes (1 of 4 on field-goal attempts). Leonard was less effective, picking up three fouls, two points and one rebound in nine minutes. Mo Williams had 10 points but was 2 of 7 on field goals.
The Blazers' four subs were a combined minus-19 in plus-minus.
Rookie guard C.J. McCollum did not play. Thomas Robinson, Will Barton and Earl Watson also were DNPs -- coach's decision.
The Knicks are 11-17 at home after going 31-10 in 2012-13.
Aldridge started slowly and was 1 of 7 from the field with 3 points at halftime. He was 5 of 17 for the game.
Portland missed its first eight shots in the fourth quarter and went 4 of 17 overall in the period, going without a basket for nearly the first five minutes.
New York led 30-20 in points in the paint and 18-10 in second-chance points, but shot just 40 percent from the field.
The Knicks fell to 19-30.
Anthony led NY with 26 points and added seven rebounds. He was 11 of 28 from the floor.
Also for the Knicks, J.R. Smith had 18 points, and Amar'e Stoudemire dropped in 15, with seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
"It was a really quality win." Terry Stotts, Blazers coach
The Blazers play at 4 p.m. PT Friday at Indiana (ESPN, CSNNW).