Lillard scores 30, Trail Blazers rout Knicks 110-95
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Damian Lillard knows what can happen in games like Thursday.
So with the New York Knicks sitting Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, Lillard made sure the Portland Trail Blazers didn't go easy on the guys who did play.
Lillard scored 30 points and the Trail Blazers never trailed in a 110-95 victory.
''I know how these games can go,'' Lillard said. ''You can come out and take for granted that guys like D. Rose and Carmelo are not playing and say, `All right this is going to be an easy win.' I think it was my third year, towards the end of the year, we played Utah and everybody sat out. They came in here and beat us.''
With that memory in mind, the Blazers rolled.
Lillard had 15 in the first quarter as Portland opened a 14-point lead. The Blazers led by as much as 23 and moved within a game of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points for the Knicks.
Lillard entered Thursday's game averaging 31.2 points since the All-Star break and didn't cool off. He has scored 25 or more in eight straight games, a career-best streak.
Reserves Allen Crabbe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Meyers Leonard all connected from 3-point range in the second quarter, helping the Blazers extend their lead to 21 at halftime. Portland went 11 for 21 (52 percent) from behind the arc.
Knicks: Anthony (knee), Rose (ankle) and Lance Thomas (hip) were all held out. Rose and Thomas were injured in the loss to Utah on Wednesday, while coach Jeff Hornacek said Anthony was held out with knee soreness after playing the previous night.
''(Rose) came out this morning and the thought was that he could play,'' Hornacek said. ''(Rose) came out and couldn't put weight on it. So he decided he was out. Carmelo, with the constant flaring of his knee on back-to-backs, we'll hold him out.'' In their place, the Knicks started rookies Ron Baker, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez. The rookies scored 17 of New York's 23 first-quarter points.
Trail Blazers: Since acquiring center Jusuf Nurkic from Denver, the Blazers have gone 9-6 while playing some of their best basketball. The 7-foot, 280-pound Bosnian has given the Blazers a presence in the post and also been one of the league's best passing big men since his arrival, averaging 3.5 assists, which ranks fourth among all centers since the All-Star break. ''He's a talented guy,'' Hornacek said. ''Big, strong and knows how to play. He can set up in the post and he can also pass the ball. When Lillard and (CJ) McCollum are cutting, they may be open and that puts pressure on Nurkic and he can make those passes.'' Nurkic finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
TURNER FEELING COMFORTABLE
Evan Turner had 10 points and six rebounds on Thursday in his best game since returning from a broken right hand Saturday in Atlanta.
Turner tried a new brace - the third in a week - with a softer strap on the palm which allowed him to have a better feel for the ball.
''The biggest thing about tonight is that I could feel the ball,'' Turner said. ''I am just focused on playing good defense and earning my minutes back.''
With the Blazers taking an early double-digit lead, Lillard sensed that Thursday could be a night for Turner to get back in rhythm.
''I saw the kind of game that it was and I just said (to Turner), `Be aggressive.' Get yourself going and get in rhythm,''' Lillard said.
Knicks: The Knicks travel to San Antonio to take on Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs on Saturday.
Blazers: Portland will host the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
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|35.8||Min. Per Game||35.8|
|27.3||Pts. Per Game||27.3|
|5.9||Ast. Per Game||5.9|
|4.8||Reb. Per Game||4.8|
|42.1||Field Goal %||45.7|
|42.1||Three Point %||44.1|
|85.1||Free Throw %||90.1|
|Bad pass turnover on Sasha Vujacic||0:10|
|Field Goals||36-88 (40.9%)||39-80 (48.8%)|
|3-Pointers||5-22 (22.7%)||11-21 (52.4%)|
|Free Throws||18-20 (90.0%)||21-29 (72.4%)|