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Blazers blitz Knicks for 11th win in a row

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It wasn't easy through a bumpy second half, but the Portland Trail Blazers got the job done Monday without ever relinquishing the lead.

Forward Nicolas Batum led the way as Portland jumped to a 22-point halftime lead, saw the lead sliced to seven points in the late going, then held on for a 102-91 victory over the New York Knicks at the Moda Center.

Batum totaled 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Trail Blazers (13-2). Portland earned its 11th consecutive win.

Guard Damian Lillard contributed 23 points and six assists, forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and guard Wesley Matthews added 17 points and six rebounds for Portland.

"The game was kind of weird," said Aldridge, named earlier in the day as the Western Conference Player of the Week. "We came out well, and then it was just one of those games where there wasn't a lot of energy in the game. But we stayed with it and got the win."

New York forward Carmelo Anthony bombed in 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Knicks (3-10) lost for the sixth straight time.

Batum scored 15 points and dished out five assists to stake Portland to a 17-point halftime edge.

"One of the things I've been concerned about was how we started games, especially defensively," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "I was really pleased with the way we set the tone in the first quarter, particularly at the defensive end, and maintained that throughout the first half."

The game was tied when the Blazers went on a 12-0 run for a 24-12 lead, the Knicks going four minutes without a point. It was 34-18 after one quarter, with Batum collecting 13 points, four assists and three rebounds in the period.

By mid-second quarter, Portland extended its advantage to 44-22. The Knicks used a 16-8 spurt to close to within 52-38 late in the period, but the Blazers went into intermission with a 56-39 lead.

New York, with Anthony going to work, crept back within 71-61 with four minutes left in the third quarter. The margin was 81-69 entering the final period, Anthony almost single-handedly keeping the Knicks alive with 25 points and 11 rebounds to that point.

Forward Andrea Bargnani's 3-pointer cut Portland's lead to 81-74 with 10:09 remaining, but the Blazers responded with the next nine points to seize a 90-74 advantage. New York rallied again, getting within 94-85 with 4:40 to play.

Anthony's three-point play with 1:47 left cut the difference to 98-91. Back-to-back baskets by Lillard finally put the win on ice for the Blazers.

"The game was won in the first quarter," New York coach Mike Woodson said. "We played Knick basketball in the second, third and fourth quarters, but when you spot a good team that's been playing well 22 points, it's tough."

Portland center Robin Lopez, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds, said, "There was a point in the second half where we let off the gas pedal a little bit. Terry did a good job of staying on top of us and keeping us focused."

Stotts improved his career head-coaching record to 151-219 on his 56th birthday.

NOTES: Portland's franchise record for consecutive wins is 16, set during the 1990-91 season. ... Portland was without sixth man G Mo Williams, who served a one-game suspension for his involvement in a fracas during the Trail Blazers' 113-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. In addition, F LaMarcus Aldridge was fined $45,000 and G Wesley Matthews $20,000 for their involvement in the incident. ... New York was minus injured starters G Raymond Felton (hip) and C Tyson Chandler (leg). Felton said he expects to be back in action against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at Staples Center. Chandler isn't likely to return until Christmas. ... Stotts and Woodson were teammates on the 1976 Indiana team that played Kentucky in the annual high school series. "I was at Bloomington High North, he was at Broad Ripple High (in Indianapolis)," Stotts said. "He was the star; I played a minute." Said Woodson: "Terry was a good player. Any time you make the Indiana all-star team, you have to be pretty good. Our team was loaded with a lot of talent, but we weren't expected to win the series against Kentucky, with Darrell Griffith and that group. But we won both games."
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