Another double-digit lead was blown by the Knicks as the Blazers came away with the victory, 132-129 in a back-and-forth overtime affair.
The Portland Trail Blazers (11-8) defeated the New York Knicks (9-10) by a final score of 132-129 in overtime. For Portland, Jeremi Grant finished with a game-high 44 points with 28 free throws, while Anfernee Simons had 38 points, five rebounds, and four assists. For the Knicks, Jalen Brunson had 32 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while RJ Barrett had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.
Coming into tonight’s home game, I didn’t know what to expect. The Blazers came into the game with a solid record but without star guard Damian Lillard. Portland has several players who are better than their overall play and make things work around Lillard, but without him? An intriguing matchup.
Early, the Blazers did all the dirty work. Jusef Nurkic was active around the glass, handling New York’s big men at the rim, while Josh Hart’s rebounding ability was on display as a six-foot-five guard. Then, the Knicks struck back, pushing their lead to double digits. Julius Randle saw Nurkic’s aggression and matched it on the offensive end – slashing through the Blazer defense and creating shots at the rim.
The star of the first half was Jerami Grant. Grant finished with 25 points in the first half, including 14 free throw attempts. It was a whistle-fest on both sides, with Grant the biggest benefactor and key to Portland’s 20-8 run to close out the second quarter and push Portland into the lead heading into the second half.
The third quarter was an electric back-and-forth 12 minutes with both teams trading baskets. Portland saw Anfernee Simons get active, with a couple of good outside shots, while Josh Hart was all over the place, whether making excellent deflections on defense or long rebounds to save possessions for Portland. New York got some good looks from RJ Barrett, who got a handful of strong drives to the basket in transition.
That back-and-forth feeling bled over to the fourth quarter, to the point where both teams found themselves tied at the end of the quarter, leading to overtime. It was there where despite Hart fouling out, Portland pulled away. Simons turned it on yet again, this time with an impressive pull-up three and an excellent no-look pass to Nurkic at the rim, pushing Portland’s lead up to eight and putting the Knicks away.
Overall, this was a frustrating game for the Knicks. Another double-digit lead went up in smoke and the defense couldn’t hold on. Despite his decent statline, it was another bad RJ Barrett game, and the Knicks often just looked like a mess. This is a team that still might make the playoffs, but they feel stuck in the middle and their roster optimization screams for a new everything.
- Immanuel Quickley had an excellent game. Offensively, he was where he needed to be, whether it was solid creation or secondary passing to get the offense moving. Defensively, he was active and buzzing around, often around where Hart and Simons were, attempting to stop them. Off the bench, Quickley was a bright spot.
- Jalen Brunson was average tonight. With 30 points and a big finish to put the Knicks up two with 16 seconds left, he did well on offense. He didn’t do well in terms of finding teammates and generating offense and the defense was rough at points, with the Blazers targeting him multiple times.
- The center trio was all over the place tonight. Mitchell Robinson was fine in his minutes, and I liked him stepping out to defend on the perimeter a bit. Isaiah Hartenstein was up and down and with an Achilles injury, I don’t know how much he should play. Jericho Sims did all the dirty work, but he was the worst defender of the three against Nurkic.
- After games of getting close to good optimization with his rotation, Tom Thibodeau took a step back. Obi Toppin only got 14 minutes even when the game needed his energy. I’m assuming Quentin Grimes is on a minutes restriction, locked in between 25-to-32 minutes. This would’ve been a nice Cam Reddish game, but the Knicks didn’t have him.
The Knicks remain home at Madison Square Garden to host the Memphis Grizzlies (11-8) on Sunday, November 27th. Both teams played already this season, with the Grizzlies defeating the Knicks 115 to 112 in overtime on October 19th. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m.