After a tough end to a three-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers are eager to get home. Following a difficult stretch at Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks might not be too sad about going on the road.
The Trail Blazers look to avoid losing three straight for the second time this season when they host the Knicks on Sunday.
Portland (30-19) plays its next two and five of its next six at home, where it is 18-5 this season. It returns home after losing the final two games of a three-game trip in which its five-game winning streak came to an end. The Blazers trailed by double digits in all three games, including by 20 points in two of them.
On Friday, Portland lost 102-93 to the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder. The Blazers trailed 60-40 at the half and allowed the Thunder to shoot 50 percent for the game. Brandon Roy scored 32 points and Travis Outlaw added 20 for Portland.
“We need more effort,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “We need better effort. We got the effort the second half. We won the second half. But we need that effort at the beginning of the game. They came out, they wanted it more. Not that we didn’t play, but we have to play harder.”
Greg Oden struggled Friday, finishing with four points in 16 minutes. Oden has been limited to 21 points combined in the last four games after averaging 16.4 in the previous five.
The Blazers were held below 100 points in all three games of the road trip. They averaged 102.4 points in the previous 11 games.
Portland is no doubt looking forward to some time at home, where it is 8-2 against teams from the Eastern Conference. The Knicks (21-28) may also welcome the change of scenery after a difficult week at Madison Square Garden.
“We knew this was going to be a tough week,” said David Lee, who had 18 points and 18 rebounds Friday. “I would have loved to get two victories out of it, but unfortunately we didn’t.”
The Knicks, who had won six of seven before the losing streak, are giving up 114.0 points in their last four games. They allowed the Celtics to shoot 51.3 percent and outrebound them 51-43, but coach Mike D’Antoni was pleased with the effort he saw all week, especially Friday. New York had a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter against Boston.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about our guys,” he told the Knicks’ official Web site. “We’ll look at the film and understand where we messed up towards the end and try to get better at it.”
New York is 7-16 on the road this season, including 3-6 against teams from the West. The Knicks will also face Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers on this trip before the All-Star break.
Portland beat the Knicks at MSG on Dec. 2, 104-97. The Blazers have won the last four meetings, and seven of the last eight at home.