One of the three hottest teams in the NBA right now, the Portland Trail Blazers, facing one of the worst, the New York Knicks? Not even a fair fight, as the 102-91 scoreline doesn’t do justice to the winners, led by the usual balanced effort from their starting five and especially Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard, while Carmelo Anthony was completely alone on the other end, also something we’ve gotten used to seeing.
A team that’s so good on the offensive end when it comes to exploiting weaknesses in defensive schemes, the Blazers really didn’t find it too difficult to separate from the Knicks. They won the first quarter 34-18 and cruised for the rest of the game, clamping down and taking things serious whenever the Knicks got a little bit close, which means almost taking it down to single digits.
Batum and Lillard both scored 23 points in the most enjoyable team to watch in the NBA right now. There are just so many ways for them to score, even though they usually begin with giving the ball to Aldridge in the low post. Unlike Anthony and the Knicks, there seems to be more than one option from that situation, not to mention the ease in which teams get to score on the Knicks these days.
The Blazers scored 82% of their points on free throws, wide open three pointers or at the rim finishes. They only scored 40 points in the paint because it wasn’t that hard pulling up for shots from further away. The Anthony-Bargnani-Kenyon Martin frontcourt did get some points (combining to score 60), but has absolutely 0 ability to stop teams from having their way under the Knicks’ basket. The Blazers have Robin Lopez as a center, not an All-Star or anything close to that, but he and Aldridge found it very easy to do whatever they wanted.
Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points on 13-of-25 from the field. He added 15 rebounds and 3 assists, but it quite hilarious hearing him talk about ball movement and sharing the ball at the end of the game.
When the ball doesn’t move, you can’t get into a rhythm. When the ball’s not moving around, that makes it tough for the rest of the team to have fun out there. Right now, we’re not having fun. To work that hard and to be losing like we are, it’s not a great feeling.
The Blazers shot only 44% from the field, not having the most fluid of offensive games they’ve had recently. However, against the very sad-looking New York Knicks, it doesn’t really matter. Terry Stotts was especially pleased with the defense, and tried to throw a few compliments the Knicks’ way, even though they didn’t deserve it.
One of the things we’ve been concerned about was how we’ve started games, especially defensively. I was really pleased with the way we set the tone in the first quarter, particularly on the defensive end, and we maintained that throughout the first half. We’re a little disappointed we let them get back in it, but New York has a lot of talented scorers and 3-point shooters, and we made a few mistakes.