The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New York Knicks tonight, 116-113, with Damian Lillard scoring 39 points.
Even though they had a 25-point advantage early in the third, the Trail Blazers were in a position to defend the victory in the last minutes of the contest. With 16.6 seconds to go, rookie Immanuel Quickley scored all three free throws following Derrick Jones Jr’s shooting foul, bringing the guests down to 112-109.
Yet Robert Covington and Damian Lillard, both off the foul-line, helped the hosts overcome this push and notch their ninth win of the campaign. Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts was more than happy because of a triumph, adding that seeing a big lead melting down is something usual in the NBA.
“There are teams every night that are up 20 points, 15 points, and the lead evaporates in some way. As a coach, you don’t want it to happen, obviously, but the biggest thing is managing it when it does happen.”
The one who needs to be credited for New York’s comeback is Quickley. In just 24 minutes on the court, he had 31 points, with four assists while shooting 5-for-8 for three points. It seems that the youngster wasn’t scouted well enough, using that to his advantage once taking over the leading role in the Knicks’ attack.
It is interesting to see that the team from the Big Apple had an advantage on the glass, having 51 boards, while Portland grabbed 44. The visiting side also outscored the rival from the paint, 44-30.
That was mostly due to Julius Randle, who had 25 buckets for the guests, posting 7 boards and five dimes, and Alec Burks added 18, also hitting five threes. That was all when it comes to New York’s double-digit scorers, as no one else among the guests reached a 10-point mark.
Things were better with the Trail Blazers, who had five players with 10 or more points. Derrick Jones Jr scored 14, Gary Trent Jr. 11, Anfernee Simons 16, Carmelo Anthony 12, while Lillard dropped 39 as mentioned above.
Dame was red-hot, hitting 11 of 17 shots from the floor with six threes in 10 attempts. He was perfect from the free-throw line making all 11 tries. Apart from being super when it comes to executing, Lillard was orchestrating the attack very well, assisting 8 times.
Portland is without Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum, and such a situation demands Dame’s bigger involvement. For him, each win without these two starters is a big deal.
“It was the kind of game we needed to play, especially with CJ and Nurk being out,” Lillard said. “That second group, they came out, and they were sharp, they were making shots, the ball was moving.”
Lillard had a big motive to play well in this match, as he became the father for the second time last Thursday. He and his fiancee received twins after having a baby boy previously. He has little time to spent with his family now before having to go on a long road-trip.
Portland has one more game at home, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, prior to a six-game tour, mostly through the Eastern Conference. They play against the Rockets first and, after that, head for Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte, and Orlando.
The Knicks will face Utah Jazz on Tuesday and head back home to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers and the LA Clippers. After that, Tom Thibodeau will visit his old team, Chicago Bulls, against whom the Knicks have back-t0-back matches.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.