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Knicks 112, Blazers 110: Scenes from a relieving, petrifying victory

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody on Earth knew this was going in:

I still kinda think it is. After a really impressive Knicks comeback, some dumb plays and weird calls put New York in a position to blow the win on that very shot, but after Damian Lillard drew a foul shooting a three, hit the first two free throws,  intentionally missed the third, then pulled the rebound out to the arc perfectly for a game-winning attempt ... he came up short. There is mercy in this world.

And it really was an impressive comeback to seal a big, big, big, big win that we and the Knicks desperately needed to finish this dismal road trip. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 37 points in 21 shots -- his first efficiently dominant performance in a while. Melo got his buckets with help from Robin Lopez ...

... and he bullied weaker Blazers on his own ...

... and made helpful passes when the Blazers threw help at him:

Melo was terrific, but it was the Knicks bench's energetic play(!) that brought them back from a double-digit deficit. They actually pushed and got quick buckets off stops ...

... and mostly kept the Blazers to singular, difficult shots in the second half. Lance Thomas and Kyle O'Quinn were instrumental.

Down the stretch, the Knicks forced Portland off the three-point line very nicely, but they got buckets anyway. The Knicks generated a couple nice three-point looks, but missed 'em anyway. The decisive play, perhaps, was this foul Melo drew on Mason Plumlee:

Close call, but sooooo much better than Melo setting for a fadeaway after he'd gotten the mismatch he wanted. He hit both free throws even after some ref tomfoolery (they basically tried to steal a point by zoning out and neglecting to execute a Portland sub before giving Melo the ball. It was really bad.), and kept hitting his given free throws the rest of the way.

Portland grabbed some critical second chances late in the game and nearly stabbed themselves in the heart on that final play, but it was not to be. I am so thankful it was not to be. Good job, Knicks.