In a season of dramatic second-half comebacks, this one was too far out of the Knicks’ reach.
Damian Lillard scored 32 points and the Portland Trail Blazers wrapped up a strong five-game road trip with their third consecutive victory, beating the Knicks by a score of 103-91 on Monday night.
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down by 26 points, but made the game competitive with a 14-0 run and whittled Portland’s lead down to single-digits in the final minute.
Kristaps Porzingis returned from a one-game absence and scored 22 points, but the Knicks were without starting center Enes Kanter for a third straight game because of back spasms. They lost all three, falling back to .500 at 10-10. Kyle O’Quinn started in place of Kanter and had 8 points and 11 rebounds while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 points.
The Knicks, who dropped to 9-4 at home, blew big early leads in the last two losses, in Atlanta and Houston, but mostly played from behind against Portland — sometimes way behind. The Knicks never led by more than two and trailed by as much as 26.
“The game was low energy from our guys,” Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We’re not the team that can just come out there and think we’re just going to play and then step it up later. We have to do it from the tip-off, and I don’t think our energy was there for the first three quarters.”
Lillard made the last basket of the third quarter, and he will not have any easier ones all season. Shabazz Napier stole the ball while the Knicks were on the fast break and threw it down to Lillard, who had remained on the other end. He dunked the ball with no other players on that side of the court to make it 90-64.