Knicks-Trail Blazers Preview
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New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers
- New York and Portland have split their last six meetings, with the Trail Blazers winning the last one, 105-100 on the Knicks' home court on January 1.
- The Knicks have won six of their last eight games when playing on zero days' rest (including their last three such games on the road).
- The Trail Blazers went 28-for-29 from the free-throw line in Tuesday's loss to Memphis after going 11-for-12 (.917) from the line in their previous game. That combined 95.1 (39/41) FT percentage is the highest by any team in a two-game span (minimum 40 FTA) this season (The Grizzlies shot 95.5% over a two-game span, December 12-14, but only attempted 22 free throws in those contests).
- Carmelo Anthony had 45 points in the January 1 game against the Trail Blazers. However, the forward will not play Thursday; he has returned to New York to have his knee examined and drained. The Knicks are 5-5 without Anthony this season.
- Iman Shumpert had 20 points on 8-for-10 from the field in Wednesday's loss to Denver. Shumpert had not scored more than 10 points in any of his previous 24 games this season since returning from a knee injury.
- Damian Lillard has had at least 20 points in seven straight games. Since at least the start of the 1985-86 season, Lillard is the only Trail Blazer rookie to have 20+ points in seven or more consecutive games. The last rookie on any team to have 20+ points in seven or more consecutive games was Blake Griffin, who had two such streaks during the 2010-11 season.
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Carmelo Anthony's return to Denver didn't go as planned and neither has the start of his team's road trip.
Now the Knicks will have to try to get back on track without their All-Star forward.
With Anthony headed back to New York, the Knicks will try for their first win on a five-game trip Thursday night when they face the Portland Trail Blazers.
Anthony, making his first appearance in Denver since being traded to the Knicks more than two years ago, hobbled into the locker room with nine minutes left in the third quarter on Wednesday and did not return in a 117-94 loss.
The team's leading scorer is returning to New York to have his ailing right knee drained and there is no timetable for his return. The Knicks are 5-5 without Anthony this season.
"I'm going to go get it drained, get the fluid out. Get to the bottom of it quick, so I can get back on the court," he said.
Anthony returned to the lineup for the start of their road swing, but has struggled after a three-game absence due to the injury. He scored 14 on 4-of-15 shooting in a 29-point loss at Golden State on Monday before finishing with nine on 3 of 12 from the field against the Nuggets.
New York is already missing Amar'e Stoudemire (knee surgery) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) in the frontcourt, but All-Star center Tyson Chandler is expected to play on Thursday after going down with a bruised left knee in the first half against the Nuggets.
J.R. Smith, the team's top scoring option in Anthony's absence, has struggled with 24 points on 8-of-23 shooting on this trip. He had 28 points and 11 rebounds in a 105-100 loss to the Trail Blazers on Jan. 1.
Iman Shumpert will also try to provide a spark after finishing with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting on Wednesday.
After outrebounding the Knicks by a 47-37 margin in the first meeting, Portland may be able to take advantage of a banged-up New York interior that has been outrebounded by a 112-75 margin in its last two games.
Following back-to-back losses and three in four games overall, the Knicks (38-24) have fallen one game behind Indiana for second place in the Eastern Conference. They're also nursing a 1 1/2-game edge over Brooklyn atop the Atlantic Division.
Portland (29-34), meanwhile, looks to breathe some life into its fading playoff hopes as it trails the Los Angeles Lakers by 3 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in the West.
"Definitely that door is closing," LaMarcus Aldridge said. "We're going to have to string together some wins fast or that door is going to close on us."
The Trail Blazers, losers of 11 of 15 overall, have won seven of 10 at the Rose Garden and those three losses were by a combined 11 points.
Aldridge had 28 points and 10 boards and Damian Lillard scored 27 in a 102-97 home loss to Memphis on Tuesday.
Nicolas Batum led the way with 26 points and hit 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the earlier win at New York, but has averaged 5.7 on 4-of-18 shooting in his last three games.
The Trail Blazers have averaged 103.9 points - 5.9 above their season average - in their last 10 home games.
Portland has won nine of 11 at home in this series.
Updated March 14, 2013