Knicks give Trail Blazers huge lead, end trip on sour note

PORTLAND, Ore. — Another game out West. Another choke of a double-digit lead.

And that was the most shameful. The Knicks gagged a 23-point second-half advantage as the Trail Blazers forced them into submission in the second half with a 40-16 run and posted a 112-103 shock, coming from behind on Saturday at the Mode Center.

The Knicks were outscored 35-11 in the fourth quarter from hell, and it’s going to be a looong redeye home. They also shot 3 of 18 in the fourth and were passed 19-7.

“We just have to find a way to do that,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s tenacity. That’s why competitiveness, tenacity, all that matters, discipline.”

The Knicks finished their Western swing 1-4. In three of those losses, the Knicks had double-digit leads, including a 21-point bulge in Los Angeles. They fell to 25-32, spoiled one of Kemba Walker’s best games and couldn’t build on their shock win at Golden State.

The Blazers (23-34) are coming off a sellout, but they still have young Anfernee Simons, who finished with 30 points. Newly acquired Portland Josh Hart scored 23 goals in his debut for the Blazers.

Josh Hart, who scored 23 points, grabs a rebound in the Knicks’ 112-103 loss to the Trail Blazers
NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks were rolling with Walker, who scored 23 points, sizzling and Julius Randle dominating again as he traveled it all. But Randle, facing tough double teams, calmed down and he committed two straight turnovers during the fourth quarter blitz – bouncing a ball off his foot and out of bounds, then throwing a pass that was intercepted.

The daring Blazers eventually took the lead with 3:20 left on a Jusuf Nurkic dunk as they dominated on the inside as the Knicks looked exhausted.

The Knicks received no assists from Evan Fournier, who was 1-of-13, and Mitchell Robinson had an injury-ravaged nightmare, finishing with two points and no rebounds before leaving with an ankle injury in the third quarter. .

Julius Randle, who scored 28 points, goes up for a shot in the Knicks' loss.
Julius Randle, who scored 28 points, goes up for a shot in the Knicks’ loss.

Spared at Thursday’s trade deadline due to little interest, Walker put up his second strong game, reaching the rim and bulking up 3-pointers. But Tom Thibodeau benched him down the stretch in Walker’s first double-digit outing since Jan. 18.

Randle continued his spree out West, scoring 28 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, but it all came to nothing. He only scored four points in the fourth quarter.

Rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes, making his second straight for the injured RJ Barrett, had 20 points, making five of seven 3-pointers.

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