Knicks Vs. Blazers Recap 2/6
The Knicks inch closer to .500 (11-13) beating Melo and the Blazers 110-99
After an up and down start to this one, the Knicks calmly extended the lead just before the break with, get this, RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton knocking down consecutive threes. On the flip side, Damian Lillard played like the superstar he is, putting up 16 points on 5-8 from the field and 3-5 from downtown to lead the Blazers opening half. Another bright spot in the first (or the entire game, really) was Reggie and Alec's veteran presence. Both guys really stepped up, providing reliable boosts on both sides of the ball.
The Knicks came out hot in the second half, pushing the lead to 10. With the Blazers refusing to go quietly, and the Knicks not being able to buy a shot late in the 4th, the game seemed in peril. Fortunately for us fans, Dame missed a couple key threes that could've put this game in jeopardy, and Julius knocked down some huge free-throws to cap off the win.
Knicks Bright Spots
Though Elfrid Payton had some rough moments, the guard play this afternoon was a significant factor in the Knicks securing the W. No doubt that Quickley should have played more minutes, but Elfrid certainly played well. Those two were a combined 14-27 from the field with 34 points and 7 assists. Nothing spectacular but enough to get the job done. Is this one spot the Knicks look to upgrade in the coming weeks? Frankly, I'd love to see them make a trade to boost play-off or play-in hopes.
Once again, it seemed to be the RJ and Julius show. Barrett continues to shine with his shot and play-making ability. With the team needing a pick-me-up to close out the first, RJ calmly dropped 7 of the team's 12 points to close the half. His mid-range jumper looks increasingly smooth and is becoming a weapon off the dribble. It seems he's slowly adding to his "bag" after there were some concerns about the ability to create his own shot.
RJ finished the game with 18 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 8-14 from the field. Julius dropped yet another double-double with 22 points and 10 boards while tying Payton for the team-high in assists with 4. The pair continues to prove they can be a dangerous 1-2 punch for years to come. Leon may have a lot more to think about than he'd like through the first few months of his inaugural season.
After a hard-fought game, the Knicks host the Miami Heat tomorrow for their first matchup of the season. Don't let the record fool you though, Miami is undoubtedly better than what they've shown to start the season. It'll be interesting to watch how the Knicks handle Bam on defense and shut down Miami's perimeter threats. The game kicks-off at the same time tomorrow, 1 PM ET. Can the Knicks keep their early-game dominance going? We'll find out soon enough.