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Blazers 103, Knicks 99: "League leaders in quality losses."

Eat, sleep, rally in the fourth quarter to no avail, repeat

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I tried to save myself some time tonight by writing up some of the recap at 1PM earlier while eating a turkey panini. Here are some of the highlights.

"The Knicks' 4th quarter comeback effort fell short after the team failed to get enough defensive stops in the final few minutes."  "Jason Smith was an abject disaster defensively." "Everything is terrible." To be fair, I also predicted Wesley Matthews to score at least 30, so maybe I'm not Nostradamus.

In any case, the Knicks had dropped seven consecutive games coming into tonight's matchup against the Trailblazers, and are pretty reliable in their ineptitude. We expect them to fall behind early in the first quarter. We await their half-hearted comeback efforts to make the deficit respectable in the second. We slaver with anticipation of their third quarter meltdowns. And we resign ourselves to the inevitable heartbreak. Such is life as a Knicks fan these days.

This game was simultaneously exciting and predictable. Just as the game seemed like it was slipping out of reach down the stretch, JR Smith turned it on and just started slicing to the rim to pull New York back into it. The Garden was rocking, but LaMarcus Aldridge would end up the hero, sinking a fadeaway to put Portland up for good. The Knicks might well lead the league in quality losses, as our friend JRmyth suggested. They have somehow lost 5 straight games with the score within 5 points in the final five minutes. Which, yeah, that sounds bad. The Knicks are bad. But they've been in position to win these games, and that's encouraging. Here are some notes:

- How good has Amar'e Stoudemire looked? STAT started at center again, and offered up a robust 16-10-2 with 2 blocks against some lengthy defenders in Robin Lopez and Aldridge. Amar'e did most of his work inside and did a marvelous job creating offense while Carmelo Anthony rested. Wasn't awful defensively, either.

- Conversely, Jason Smith has been quite disappointing. Smith isn't much more than a basketball trebuchet on the offensive end, and somehow managed to accrue three turnovers and five fouls in 23 minutes. It's hard to justify any playing time for Smith at all right now, and he may legitimately be the least-appetizing member of the Knicks' frontcourt.

- JR Smith made the most of his minutes, and is hopefully due for a continued hot streak. JR scored efficiently, and looked to move the ball when he didn't have an open look. He got a little pass-happy, and a few of his errant passes were egregious, but we saw good JR out there.

- Poor shooting nights from Jose Calderon break my heart.

- Melo played an okay game. He started to heat up early after Nicolas Batum went to the bench to tend to his ankle, leaving poor Allen Crabbe to try defending the superstar forward. Anthony has done a pretty admirable job not forcing the issue too often when he gets post position, and did a good job on the glass tonight.

- Just 17 minutes for Samuel Dalembert tonight. Stoudemire is taking his minutes, which is cool I guess but he really should be siphoning those minutes from Jason Smith.

- Speaking of inconsistent playing time: Iman Shumpert played exactly as many minutes in the fourth quarter tonight as you and I did. It's starting to feel like Shump's back in a doghouse. Maybe Coach Fisher just stuck with JR and Tim Hardaway Jr because they both had been playing well, and that left Shumpert as the odd man out. It's still unsettling to see him miss entire quarters. It's even less settling for those of us concerned about his impending free agency.

Pablo Prigioni yelled at Jason Smith for passing up an open shot and forcing Pablo to take it. Prigioni's slow heel turn is being masterfully handled.

- Sixteen offensive rebounds for the Blazers tonight, including one from Lopez that sealed the game. The Knicks have to figure out how to protect the boards.

LeBron James stopped by tonight to watch his old friend and rival Travis Wear Carmelo compete. Weird.

-Mike Breen asked Clyde Frazier if he ever went to watch other players' games like LeBron did tonight. Clyde's response: "I only went to Knicks games because they paid me!" What a legend.

It's not the worst thing that the Knicks hang close in so many games, but it's kind of the worst thing. Every loss brings them closer to that sweet, sweet draft pick though. Here, go to Draftexpress. Gaze longingly at Karl Towns. Maybe read that interview where he talks about developing a three point shot. Be happy; change your face; enjoy it.