Even on a night where New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was at his very best, the Portland Trail Blazers were able to improve to a blistering 13-2 on the season with a 102-91 victory in the Rose Garden.
Anthony scored 34 points (on 13 for 25 shooting) and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds in 43 minutes of on-court action, but that excellent showing wasn’t quite enough to upend the red-hot Blazers. Portland was led by 23 points each from Nic Batum and Damian Lillard, as well as an 18-point, 14-rebound performance from presumptive MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge.
Outside of Anthony, the Knicks offense stalled in a major way, as the rest of the team scored just 57 points on 60 field goal attempts (yikes) thanks to a suffocating version of the Portland defense. The Blazers also got 10 “extra” points at the free throw line as a result of 86% shooting (to just 64% for the Knicks), and with as electric as Portland has been in the Rose Garden this season (and really, every season), it takes a near-perfect effort to challenge them in that building.
After tallying this game in the standings, it becomes even more clear that these two teams are going in completely different directions. The road loss, although not a bad one, takes the Knicks to 3-10 on the season, and you have to believe that head coach Mike Woodson’s job security becomes more tenuous by the day. On the other hand, Portland’s 13-2 mark is good for 2nd in the jam-packed Western Conference, and while that level is certainly unsustainable, they are conducting themselves like a team poised for a run at home-court advantage, and the talent level suggests that it isn’t a crazy thought.