That was a quality win, for so many reasons.
For one thing, the Trail Blazers haven't been very good on the road this season.
For another, the Knicks have been very good at home.
For another, New York's Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points on the Blazers on Tuesday.
And for yet another, the Knicks had the emotional boost of getting Amar'e Stoudemire into a game for the first time this season, his entrance off the bench rousing the Madison Square Garden crowd into a standing ovation.
And yet, Portland pulled off a victory, 105-100, kicking off a four-game road trip in style with an impressive outcome.
There still wasn't much bench production to speak of -- five reserves played, three of 'em scored a total of 11 points -- particularly when compared with that of the Knicks, who got 28 points and 11 rebounds from sub J.R. Smith, and 40 total points from six reserves.
But the lack of bench scoring didn't come into play for the Blazers, who got 26 points from Nicolas Batum, 21 from Damian Lillard, 19 from LaMarcus Aldridge (plus 14 rebounds) and 18 from J.J. Hickson, all of those coming in the first half. Wesley Matthews was a bucket away from putting all five Portland starters in double figures.
Have the Blazers turned the corner on the road? It's too early to tell. For one thing, Tuesday's win improved their record away from the Rose Garden to just 5-10, and it was their first road victory since Dec. 3 at Charlotte -- and that took overtime to decide a 118-112 Portland win. Since then, the Blazers had lost three in a row on the road before beating the Knicks, including a thumping in Los Angeles at the hands of the Lakers.
But with three more away games before they head back home -- starting with Wednesday's game at Toronto -- the Blazers are off to a much better start on this road trip than their previous extended one, on which they dropped four in a row before winning the last two (at Cleveland, in overtime, and at Charlotte, in OT).
If they can build on the momentum of Tuesday's win in New York, the Blazers could be one giant step closer to becoming a legitimate playoff contender.
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.
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