The Knicks (41-30) beat the Portland Trail Blazers (31-38) 123-107 on Tuesday night, wrapping up their West Coast road trip with a record of 2-2.
Deuce McBride, who has been in the rotation in the absence of Jalen Brunson due to injury, had a career high 18 points in 24 minutes off the bench to help propel New York over Portland.
For yet another game, the Knicks were without Jalen Brunson, who continues to recover from a sore left foot. Immanuel Quickley got the starting assignment again as New York sought a win against the Blazers, their most recent trade partner.
The game kicked off with some solid defense by both teams, with neither allowing much in the paint and multiple possessions of good defense around the three point line. Portland’s Damian Lilliard started the scoring for the contest with a long ranger, a common trend for New York’s defense as they sought to keep those shots to a minimum. The Knicks did not score their first basket until around the seven minute mark of the first, and that didn’t exactly open the floodgates for their offense. They continued to struggle shooting throughout the quarter, with RJ Barrett appearing to be the only Knick with anything going. The Blazers, on the other hand, scored consistently through the first 12 minutes of play. This, combined with Julius Randle picking up three fouls in just the first quarter, set an ominous tone for New York as they entered the second down 13.
New York had to look to go on a run without Randle on the floor. Some early flashes of life from McBride, Obi Toppin and Barrett helped get the Knicks to within eight points very early into the second, though, which forced the Blazers to call time. The Knicks were on a 10-0 run behind some inspired paint scoring and as Portland’s hot shooting from the first quarter began to cool off. Quickley was a catalyst behind the run as he began to heat up on offense, but it felt like New York continued to settle for open jump shots they kept missing, or they looked too afraid to drive into the paint should they not get a call. Eventually, the Knicks did start to drive, and Randle was their biggest paint threat this period as it seemed he was the only Knick who could draw contact around the rim and get it called. Thanks to his aggression and New York’s defense, they managed to get the lead to just six by the half.
The Knicks really had to keep fighting down low to try and climb back into this game, and that was the first thing they did as the third quarter got underway. Despite Mitchell Robinson not being able to convert at the line for the first play of the period, New York continued to battle it out in the paint. They managed to tie things up early in the third, a great sign considering they had been down by double digits in the first half. Lilliard was not letting Portland just roll over, though, as he kept taking advantage of screens set around the perimeter to draw contact or enough space for a three. Barrett and Quickley were managing to combine forces to make Portland pay for some lackadaisical defense, which helped combat those tough Lilliard shots. They, combined with some excellent rebounding from Josh Hart and shotmaking from McBride, got New York the lead late in the third. The Knicks suddenly had control over this one, leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.
New York just had to maintain their speed and intensity on defense on everyone but Lilliard to remain in the lead in this final stretch of time in regulation. McBride did both to open up the fourth, continuing to build upon his glory from the third quarter. His prolific scoring and defense against Lilliard was clearly inspiring the rest of the Knicks on the floor with him as they finally started to score consistently both on jumpers and in the paint in transition. With about five minutes left in the quarter, the Knicks were in a battle against Lilliard and Anfernee Simons, both of which seemed incapable of missing from deep. But, New York just kept running back in transition after one of those two attempted a shot and were able to score with ease. For a significant stretch of time in the fourth, both teams struggled to score, but this only negatively impacted Portland in their attempts to get back into the contest. The Blazers were never able to recover after McBride’s barrage, and the Knicks ended their West Coast road trip with a win.
Quickley finished up as the team’s leading scorer for the night, scoring 26 points while grabbing 10 boards, collecting three assists and a steal. Randle had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Barrett finished up with 22 points, five boards and three blocks. Quentin Grimes had four points, a board, a steal and a block and Robinson had two points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.
McBride, of course, was the bench’s leading scorer with 18 points. He also had three assists, a rebound, a steal and two blocks. Hart had 16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Toppin had 11 points, a rebound and an assist. Isaiah Hartenstein had 11 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block.
New York will finally return home and have a big battle awaiting them on Saturday afternoon against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden.
»Read: A Consistent Quintin Grimes Is Essential To The Knicks’ Success