Trail Blazers 94, Knicks 90: Game Recap

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The Knicks sure play to the competition, don’t they? After a terrible loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, many might have pegged the Knicks to get steamrolled on Wednesday by the Trail Blazers. But as is their wont, the Knicks largely stuck with a superior opponent. Ultimately, as is also their wont, they floundered late and lost. That’s now 30 on the season, against just 19 wins. Some thoughts:

- Carmelo Anthony got T’d up late, and Mike Woodson ended the night by shouting at referee Danny Crawford as he left the floor. The Knicks’ best player and their head coach are both officially hitting a boiling point. For Woodson, he even showed desperation in his lineup choices, choosing to bench Raymond Felton down the stretch in favor of Pablo Prigioni. For Melo, the frustration is coming from the mounting losses and more specifically in this case, the ongoing lack of “superstar” calls he feels he receives. Last night, there were definitely a few cases to be made.

- Anthony was probably also bit ticked because he had a very poor 2nd half. He was shut out in the 4th quarter, going 0-for-6 from the field. And a lot of them were open shots, especially from 3. That was pretty much the game, in essence. The entire Knicks team missed a number of open perimeter shots, shots that if they go down change the complexion of the game dramatically. The Blazers shot just 38% from the field, but also 38% from deep. The Knicks shot 40% overall, but just 19% from 3. Ballgame.

- The Knicks’ defense, despite some sort of allergic reaction to Wesley Matthews, played okay by their low standards. At the very least they seemed to be digging in and active. There was still enough switching and useless doubling in the post that resulted in open looks for the Blazers, and those makes ultimately decided the game. Someone should have asked Mike Woodson why the Knicks doubled down on Robin Lopez in the post on the Blazers’ first possession.

- J.R. Smith had a hell of a first half. The Knicks’ offense was at its best when Smith played the ball handler in the pick and roll. The most memorable result was a 2007 Edition throwdown by Amare Stoudemire that seemed to fire up the team for the remainder of the quarter. But this is what’s so frustrating about Smith. It’s so obvious to everybody but him that when he doesn’t simply settle for isolation, step-back jumpers and attacks the rim, looks to set up others and play within the game, he’s a damn good player. He should notice more than anyone, because in one instance last night, his defender sagged a bit because of the continuous drives, and he was able to create some separation with a dribble hesitation and fire up (and make) an open jumper. J.R. doesn’t seem to understand that that’s how basketball works.

- Outside of his vicious dunk, Stoudemire gave the Knicks some good minutes on offense. He made 6-of-10 overall including some perimeter jumpers, which was nice to see. But, as usual, he had a hand in giving a lot them back. The Knicks just leak buckets with him on the floor. His D-rating stands at 108.

- Iman Shumpert with a good egg in the PTS column. I mean, really?

- I thought Tim Hardaway, Jr had a nice bounce back game. Despite making just 1-of-7 from 3 (the one being one of the desperation 3s that got the Knicks back into things late), he made 4 of his 6 from inside the arc. He had one very aggressive drive to the lane that resulted in a foul, and he pulled down 5 rebounds. It’s always nice to see when he fills another column in the stat sheet, because it hasn’t happened often. The other young buck, Jeremy Tyler, had an impactful 11 minutes with 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 authoritative blocks. At what point do the Knicks decide to give these guys (moreso Tyler) legitimate burn every night?

- The Knicks did a pretty good job on the main Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard combined to make just 9 field goals, combining for 27 points. Aldridge did hit the biggest shot of the game, a tip-your-cap turnaround jumper with Tyson Chandler draped over him that sealed the deal after the Knicks’ frantic 3-pointers cut the lead to 2. Aldridge is, well, I’ll say this: Go ahead and sign a max deal in Portland. I don’t think the rest of the league will be too mad.

- Mike Woodsons first game as Knicks head coach was back in 2012 at home against the Blazers. Will his last game as Knicks head coach also be at home against the Blazers?

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