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Blazers manhandle short-handed Knicks

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Double-doubles were triple trouble for the short-handed New York Knicks on Thursday night at the Rose Garden.

Damian Lillard scored 26 points and passed out 10 assists, LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds, and J.J. Hickson added 12 points and 16 boards as the Portland Trail Blazers polished off the Knicks 105-90.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Trail Blazers (30-34). Portland won for the fifth time in 17 games.

J.R. Smith came off the bench to bomb in 33 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight to start this five-game road trip.

New York (38-27) was playing without its top three frontcourt players, all missing due to knee injuries: Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

"Without those three -- not to say we're supposed to beat them, because they're still a good team -- but if you can catch a team like that on your home court, you want to win the game," said Lillard, the rookie point guard who reached the 20-point mark for the eighth consecutive game. "We were able to get it done."

The Blazers overcame a 13-point, first-half deficit. They trailed 41-28 midway through the second quarter.

"It was a game we definitely should have won," Smith said. "We're up 10 with two minutes left in the half, and they go on a 13-0 run. That's a heartbreaker."

Ahead by three points at halftime, Portland broke things open in the third quarter, outscoring New York 27-14 to take a 78-62 lead into the final period. Behind Smith, the Knicks responded quickly, going on a 14-2 run to cut the margin to 80-76 with 7:50 remaining.

The Blazers, with Lillard leading the way, then went on a 17-4 tear of their own for a 97-80 edge, and the Knicks were cooked.

"Maybe we relaxed a little bit, because they had no Melo, no Amar'e, no Tyson," said Portland's Nicolas Batum, who had 16 points, six assists and four rebounds. "Maybe we thought it was going to be easy. But the other (Knicks), they can play. We had to play, too, if we were going to win."

New York, had the best of it early, sinking 13 of 21 shots from the field en route to a 30-22 advantage after one quarter.

The Knicks' lead was 48-38 when the Blazers made their move, closing the half on a 13-0 roll to go into intermission ahead 51-48. Lillard had 11 points and seven assists, and Hickson eight points and nine rebounds at the break.

"The start was very disappointing," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Defensively, we weren't very alert or aggressive. But the way we finished the first half, with our defense creating some opportunities, turned things our way, and we were able to ride that through the second half."

NOTES: New York guard Raymond Felton, a member of the Trail Blazers last season, was booed every time he touched the ball. "It was what I expected," said Felton, who finished with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two turnovers. "They booed the whole time. It was funny. It made me laugh."... Hickson has 36 double-doubles, Aldridge 30 this season. ... Lillard's eight-game streak of scoring 20 or more points is the longest by a Portland rookie since Calvin Natt had a nine-game run in 1980. Lillard is the fastest rookie to reach 1,200 points and 400 assists since Allen Iverson in 1996-97. ... The Knicks shot 61.9 percent in the first quarter (13-for-21), 37.7 percent (23-for-61) the rest of the way. ... The Knicks' bench, primarily due to Smith, outscored the Portland reserves 46-15 ... Anthony, who left Wednesday night's 117-94 loss at Denver with a sore right knee, had his right knee drained in New York on Thursday. "He said it felt pretty good and that he is going to come out to L.A. (where the Knicks face the Clippers on Sunday) to be with the team and be evaluated," New York coach Mike Woodson said. "When he's going to play again, I don't know." Chandler, who left the Nuggets game with a knee contusion, is day-to-day. Stoudemire is out at least six weeks after having right knee surgery on Monday. ... The Knicks were blown out at Golden State (92-63) and at Denver on the first two stops of their five-game Western swing.
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