The Knicks came out making some extra effort on defense and looking sharp. Perhaps sick of their reflection lately, they decided to go wrestle one away from a younger team. Age before beauty, right? The spry, somewhat inexperienced Trail Blazer team was faster to the ball and it gave the Knicks fits. A big rebound advantage helped push Portland out front by as many as 11. New York battled and got it down to one at the half, but things quickly got back to double digits in the third quarter. Fourth quarter rolled around and the Knicks blitzed the Blazers with Carmelo on the bench. Then in the final seconds a twisting three from Damian Lillard barely missed and gifted the Knicks the victory.
Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez were contesting nicely at both rims. Kyle O'Quinn got the call as the first big off the bench, and he instantly came in and shoved his way to some boards, blocks and buckets. Portland still managed to score through and over the top of New York. The Blazer guards went wherever they wanted and got quality looks. Their big guys just vacuumed up the scraps. Thankfully, the Knicks had enough juice to get the win.
- The real story for the Knicks was that Carmelo started off dicing up some habanero peppers and dished out some spicy pumpkin soup. It led directly to a few over-lengthy post ups, but Anthony wasn't too domineering with the ball. Hard to deny him when he basically threw the team up on his shoulder like the 80-pound bag of cement they were, and just dragged them around on both ends of the floor. On defense he was wiping shots off his windshield and moving his feet to cut off driving angles. Then he went the other way and caramelized Portland's defense en route to 37 points on 21 shots. He was cooking.
- Rough night for Kristaps Porzingis. After his third foul sent him to the bench in the early going, Clyde Frazier offered this gem: "All the hoopla and pageantry surprounding Porzingis now, and his game is really suffering." Kristaps Kristapserson wasn't really able to get much going. He did get some time at center, which is exciting in its way. Couldn't get it going though, and did not enter the game in the fourth quarter. Two steals is good. Nothing else worth speaking on.
- Robin Lopez worked his way into a nice rhythm on those sweeping post hook shots. He was one of the few that was able to get up to Melo's intensity level. Wound up with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Despite not having any blocks, his contests shook some things out of their respective trees. He also did a great job battling on the boards and burrowing into position. Not everything went his way, but simply putting forth the effort makes all the difference. His crowning achievement was a miraculous offensive rebound in a huge crowd and a Statue of Liberty put-back layup in the closing moments of the game.
- Lance Thomas' jumper looks just much too much like a Chuck Hayes free throw for me to trust it. I don't know how he does it, but that guy is shooting 44% from the field, 36% from three and 86% from the foul line. Tonight he completely neglected to miss. Lance never has any other counting stats, but hedging and recovering and just generally hounding on defense is paramount to quality basketball. He was guarding some guy named Damian Lillard late in the closing minutes of the game and did pretty well. Of course he ran over Lillard on a three-point attempt with two seconds left and a four point lead. That kind of takes away. A win is a win, all the same.
- The Blazers have two guards who I've never heard of. The aforementioned Lillard and some Jello jiggler named CJ McCollum. Although, if you ask Clyde, it could be "MacCallum" or "Mccullough" or "MacGyver". Those shot-popping demons squirreled all over the place and netted 51 of Portland's 110 points. Toss in Allen Crabbe's (household name) 17 and you have a menacing trio. It took them too many shots to do it, but they were worrisome. Arron Afflalo and Jose Calderon were unable to guard people. Any people.
- My main man Kyle O'Quinn gave us a smattering of basically everything he does. Mirrored Lopez's numbers with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Add in 2 pretty assists, a block and a technical for slamming the ball and being frightening. His only miss was a crumby three-point try. His only turnover was a slippery pass that went directly into the Knick bench. A huge two-handed lumbering dunk punctuated his excellent night.
- Derrick Williams looks to be rounding into his pre-season form.
- Jerian Grant played the same amount of minutes as Tim Hardaway Jr has played this season. That's discouraging, but I'll wait for it to be a trend before I get upset.
I'll take it! The game thread was basically one huge gasp near the end, but I thought King Henry put it right for the headline quote. I could have sworn that was good too! Headed home, but with a lot of work to do. The schedule is about to get super ugly. I don't know if I can watch...