Knicks Blow Lead in Last Minutes of Home Opener to Trailblazers

Published on: 31st October, 2010

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Knicks Blow Lead in Last Minutes of Home Opener to Trailblazers   | read this item

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New York – It was opening night at Madison Square Garden tonight as the Knicks, after splitting their first two games of the season on the road, faced off against the Portland Trailblazers for the first time in front of their roaring fans. You knew this had to be a special night because the Garden brought in the famed boxing public address announcer, Michael Buffer to work his vocal magic in the pre-game introductions of the home team. It wasn’t enough, however, as Brandon Roy scored 29 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 leading the unbeaten (3-0) Portland Trail Blazers to a come-from-behind win over the home team, 100-95.

The Trail Blazers erased a nine-point deficit in the final 5 1/2 minutes as the Knicks, a team of mostly new players not yet familiar with each other, were unable to hit open shots or free throws down the stretch, making this the first tough loss of the season.

“We knew they would play with some emotion tonight,” said Roy. “I thought we did a good job of staying patient and not panicking when they made their runs. It was really loud in here like it always is at Madison Square Garden.”

Wilson Chandler finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who made only one field goal after taking a 92-83 lead with 5:31 remaining. Amare Stoudemire scored 18 points but turned it over six times in his home debut.

Raymond Felton, also making his Madison Square Garden debut with the Knicks, scored 16 points but was unable to complete the pick and rolls called for by Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni on the Knicks last possessions of the game, when the Knioks were down by a basket with seconds to play.

New York’s lead was gone after Portland rallied to grab a 95-94 advantage on Miller’s 3-pointer with 2:08 to play. Felton’s foul shot tied it with 1:23 remaining, and it stayed that way until Aldridge was fouled on an offensive rebound and made one free throw for a 96-95 edge with 25.5 seconds left.

Marcus Camby blocked Felton’s drive, Aldridge made another free throw, and the Knicks lost a chance to tie when a ball that was originally called out of bounds on Portland with 6.5 seconds left was overturned when instant replay showed it was off Stoudemire. Miller then made two free throws to put it away.

It was an all-too familiar finish for a team trying to move away from its awful recent past.

“We just didn’t score,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “We were up nine, they made some nice shots. Some things went against us and we just didn’t put the ball in the hole.”

D’Antoni acknowledged the Knicks weaknesses on the crucial pick-and-roll play, an offensive play Stoudemire has built his career on.

“We are just not executing it as well as we should,” he said. “You have to give them credit, they played it well.”

“We are still trying to build that chemistry,” said Felton. “We just have to hit shots. They were packing the lane on those pick and rolls. Once we start hitting some jump shots, that part of the game will open up for us, and for Amar’e (Stoudemire). We’ll be fine.”

Yes, it is early in the Knicks 2010-2011 season. Nothing to panic about. They’ve only played three games thus far, two of which have been against solid, playoff teams like the Boston Celtics and tonight’s opponent, the Portland Trailblazers. Both of those resulted in close losses. The other, on opening night, was against the Toronto Raptors, like the Knicks, an outfit looking to rebuild with new personnel. That was a close win for the Knicks.

But, in watching these Knicks go down in defeat for the second time in three nights, you can’t help but think how similar they look to the Knicks of previous years.

So far, it appears the Knicks, like past Knicks teams, are just about good enough to lose to more talented, more cohesive, more veteran teams and maybe just good enough to beat other struggling, young teams, something the league has a fair amount of. They don’t have consistent shooters, they don’t have a go-to option in crunch time other than the $100 million Stoudemire, they aren’t real tall, and don’t have a great rebounder among the bunch. Like past seasons, it is beginning to look like D’Antoni will have to patch together lineups on a night to night basis that best match up with the team they’re playing.

How nice it will be for Knicks fans if their team ever gets to the point where they will put the same devastating lineup out there every night and know they will have a better chance of winning the game than the opposing team.

In other words, is anyone wondering where Denver’s Carmelo Anthony will be playing at the NBA trading deadline in February? While they’re at it, maybe fans can also dream of Chris Paul, another star rumored to be on the trading block.

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