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Blazers hold off Knicks

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NEW YORK — Even on an off night, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge found a way to make a major contribution.

Aldridge’s key basket in the last minute sealed the Blazers’ 94-90 win over the New York Knicks 94-90 Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

Forward Nicolas Batum led four players in double figures for Portland with 20 points. He was followed by guard Wesley Matthews (18 points), Aldridge (15) and point guard Damian Lillard (12).

Aldridge, who is tied for sixth in the league in scoring, connected on only five of 17 shots from the floor, facing numerous double-teams. He has scored in double figures in all of Portland’s 49 games this season, averaging 24.3 points a game. Aldridge also grabbed 12 rebounds Wednesday.

Forward Carmelo Anthony led New York (19-30) with 26 points. He was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, missing all five of his attempts.

The Knicks got back-to-back 3-pointers from guards J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr., and they trailed 89-87 with 50 seconds to play. Aldridge then hit a difficult fadeaway jumper against Knicks center Tyson Chandler to give Portland a 91-87 cushion with 35.5 to go.

“I had been reading how (Chandler) was guarding me,” Aldridge said. “I was trying to read it, and I thought he was playing hard middle, so I got a turnaround jump shot off.

“Chandler is a good defender, but I still got off a tough shot. They were doubling me the whole game besides the last five minutes, and I had to work for my points.

“I had the whole game to miss some shots, so I felt like I was due. The law of averages has to catch up eventually.”

Chandler felt he had the shot defended well.

“I forced him into a look I wanted, but he made a good shot. He hit the one that counted, and that is what good players do.”

Portland made just four of 17 shots in the fourth quarter but converted eight of 13 shots from the line.

Normally a decent 3-point shooting team, the Knicks made just four of 21 attempts from beyond the arc.

New York trailed 77-76 with 8:15 to play, then experienced a scoring drought. The Knicks didn’t score again until there was 4:24 to play. The Trail Blazers used a 7-0 run to move ahead 84-76.

The Knicks led 59-58 with 5:39 left in the third quarter on an Amar’e Stoudemire jumper, but that slim lead quickly vanished. Portland went on a 19-8 spurt to end the quarter with a 77-68 advantage. Aldridge tossed in seven points in the run.

The Knicks took their first lead of the first half, 33-32, on a dunk from forward Jeremy Tyler with 8:18 left in the second quarter. Hardaway and Smith followed with jumpers for a 37-34 Knicks advantage with 6:36 to go before Portland countered with an 11-2 burst to move ahead 45-39.

With Matthews, Batum and Lillard already in double figures, the Trail Blazers led 47-46 at the half.

Anthony poured in 14 first-quarter points, but Portland led 26-23 going into the second. He cooled off in the second quarter, making just one of five shots and not scoring until there was 2:25 left.

“It wasn’t like (Anthony) wasn’t getting good looks,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “All you can do is put your best player in those positions, and you hope he can get to the free-throw line and that he makes the free throws.”

Matthews paced the Trail Blazers with nine first-half points.

NOTES: The Knicks shot just 66 percent from the free-throw line in their previous five games, putting them at 29th in the league over that span. They went 14-for-20 on foul shots against Portland. … Knicks G Tim Hardaway Jr. recorded 12 points to post his sixth game out of his last seven in double figures. … Only G J.R. Smith and F Carmelo Anthony have scored at least 30 points for the Knicks this season. … Portland is first in the league in points scored and free-throw percentage.

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Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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