The woeful New York Knicks came to town Tuesday night and ran into the buzzsaw that is the red hot Portland Trailblazers. With the outcome rarely in doubt, it wasn't the most exciting game of the year, but Damian Lillard was masterful once again, scoring 37 points in only 3 quarters of play, and the Blazers extended their winning streak to 8 games, taking down the Knicks 111-87.
The national media has started to take notice of the Damian Lillard's incredible play over the past two months and he is now in the conversation for season MVP. He hit a ridiculous 8 of 11 three pointers vs. the Knicks, and this was after his equally heroic performance vs. LA in a close win the night before. Dame has always been great, but right now he is playing the best basketball of his excellent career.
There's really not a lot to say about the New York Knicks at this point in the season. They are a team in disarray having lost their promising big man Kristaps Porzingis to a knee injury a month ago. They've got some interesting young talent in shooting guard Frank Ntilikina, but he still looks a few years from making a big dent. The Knicks did show some heart at the end of the first half and made a run to close the gap to 5 points. Here's a view of the fans wandering the hallways at halftime:
These two guys have been to every Blazers/Knicks game in Portland for the last four years. The dude in the Knicks gear grew up in NYC but lives here now :
These folks remain friends despite their divided loyalties:
Blazers fans are happy these days:
The second half saw the Blazers take control. Lillard kept up his barrage of three-pointers and was joined by the rest of the team as well. The Blazers shot an astounding 20-33 from deep (60.6%) in this game. Meanwhile Ed Davis collected rebounds aplenty, finishing with a game-high 14. CJ McCollum had a slow night but turned it on late and notched 19 points.
The crowd was loud and joyful, cheering on their man Dame and chanting "MVP!" when he stepped up to the free throw line. This was a game the Blazers were supposed to win easily and they did just that. They now sit in 3rd place in the tight Western conference playoff race, a position few saw them holding just a couple months ago.
This Friday the Blazers play what looks to be the biggest game of the the season so far, taking on the world champion Golden State Warriors, who will surely be looking to avenge their unexpected loss to the Blazers last month. Expect a very loud Moda Center crowd and playoff intensity. If the Blazers win that game the rest of the league will officially be on notice: this team isn't messing around anymore. Get ready for Friday Rip City!