The Knicks are following the Thunder around the league. In their last affair New York (10-29) dredged the recently thunderstruck Lakers and now they’ll chase down the Trail Blazers (23-17). As the road trip winds down for the Knicks, Portland should indeed be hungry for the hunt, while New York may seem weathered and road weary. Especially with the specter of closing out this brutish vacation against Golden State.
Despite a fun win versus an injury riddled Lakers team the Knicks haven’t always showed such valiant effort. It will be interesting to see if Enes Kanter can continue to show on pick and roll coverage and if Mario Hezonja can give the bench some punch for his second game in a row.
The Knicks will be without Frank Ntilikina after his ankle injury in Los Angeles. He’ll assuredly lose his spot in the rotation to Trey Burke until March or April. They’ll probably just trade him, they hate him. They hate me. Mitchell Robinson was also hoping to be back by tonight but will remain sidelined.
Obviously the key cog in Portland’s CX bike is Damian Lillard. However, the matchup that could be the fulcrum to success is the center spot. Luke Kornet has opened up the interior for penetrators and perpetrators alike. When Kornet is on the floor, he pulls opposing centers out of their comfort zones and he’ll fling some triples if he gets even half a look. The only time he goes inside is when he’s backing down a baby after a switch.
Kornet will have to match wits the Bosnian beast, Jusuf Nurkic, who is both hefty and spry. Big Luke is slower afoot than your typical NBA big man, but he reads the game reasonably well, and uses any amount of effort he has in the tank to track down speedsters. He’ll have to keep his head on a swivel tonight as Nurkic gets the ball in the high post, on the move. Then- almost instinctually- swings the ball or reverses it on itchy defenders.
He won’t have the ball at the end of the game but if you don’t slow him down, you won’t have a chance.
Not for nothin’, but if Enes Kanter is reading this, please watch how this guy sets screens and keeps his head up after receiving a post entry.
The Knicks come out firing and the Blazers are on their heels. Portland immediately rallies and goes up by 11 at the half. Slow start in the third, the Knicks then shift gears and hit a 17-5 run to cut it to single digits. In the fourth they keep chipping away eventually taking a two point lead. In the closing seconds Damian Lillard walks into a buzzer beating three to get his 42nd point of the night and win the game by one.
Knicks by -1.