Portland relies heavily on starters and wins 35th game
By Dave Holcomb
Oh what a difference a year makes.
The last time the Trail Blazers visited New York on March 14, 2013, Portland did win the ballgame. The victory was Portland’s 30th of the season while New York suffered its 25th loss.
Despite being about 15 fewer games into this season, the Portland victory in New York Wednesday night gave the Trail Blazers more wins and the Knicks more losses than they had a year ago.
Just like in the March 2013 matchup, the Trail Blazers (35-14) relied on its starters, who scored 74 points, to capture a 94-90 victory over the Knicks on Wednesday.
Even though Portland leads the NBA in points scored, 107.7 per game, the team is dead last in bench scoring with 22.8 per game. The Trail Blazer All-Stars power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, against the Knicks. Small forward Nicholas Batum led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting guard Wesley Matthews hit 3-of-6 3-pointers, scoring 18 points. The fifth starter center Robin Lopez contributed nine points.
Together the five have make up the rest of the Trail Blazer points with nearly 85 of them per contest, and they have started next to each other every game.
That’s more than what the Knicks can say as New York has featured a plethora of starting lineups mostly due to the injury bug. Carmelo Anthony was again superb with 14 points in the first quarter, but then finished with 26 and only made 1-0f-6 from behind the arc. Among the New York starters, point guard Raymond Felton had the next highest scoring total with seven.
The New York benched kept them in the game outscoring Portland’s substitutes 50-20, but again the lack of production from the Knicks starting five is startling. Guard Pablo Prigioni scored five points and center Tyson Chandler had one lone basket. Two games back from injury, shooting guard Iman Shumpert did not score a single point and shot 0-for-5 from the field.
The loss is the Knicks third in a row and 30th of the season, already two more than the team had all of last year. As for the Trail Blazers, the victory was its 35th of the season, two more than it had at the end of last season.