Trail Blazers erase 23-point deficit to stun Knicks

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anfernee Simons had 30 points and eight assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers erased a 23-point third-quarter deficit to beat the New York Knicks 112-103 on Saturday.

Newly acquired guard Josh Hart, one of several players new to Portland’s roster after a flurry of trades before the deadline, added 23 points in his debut for the Blazers.

“It was crazy,” Hart said. “I will definitely love playing here.”

Portland closed the gap to 98-92 in the final period when Simons and Ben McLemore hit back-to-back runs. Jusuf Nurkic’s dunk eventually put Portland ahead 99-98 with 4:23 remaining, capping a 20-4 run.

The teams traded 3 points from Alec Burks and Simons before Hart’s layup gave Portland a 106-101 lead with just under 2 minutes to play and New York couldn’t catch up. Portland outscored the Knicks 35-11 in the fourth quarter.

Julius Randle led the Knicks with 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Kemba Walker finished with 23 points.

“We just fell apart,” Walker said. “They picked up momentum and never looked back. Quite disappointing.

Hart was acquired in a multi-player trade that sent longtime Blazers guard CJ McCollum to New Orleans. The move marked the end of an era in Portland with McCollum and Damian Lillard entrenched in the backcourt.

“He plays with a sense of urgency all the time and taps on the shoulder all the time,” Blazers first-year coach Chauncey Billups said of Hart, who is in his fourth season. in the league. “He likes to play defense. You know, he likes to take on the matchups offensively. He can obviously shoot basketball, but he’s a downhill driver.

Lillard did not play in the New Year due to an abdominal problem that required surgery. There was no timetable for his return, although it seemed unlikely that he would return this season.

Justise Winslow, another newcomer via trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, also started and finished with 14 points.

“These are guys who want to learn, guys who give their all,” Hart said of his new teammates. “So that was exciting. We are obviously building for the future, but every minute we can get experience in the game, even for me but also for these young guys, it’s great.

The Knicks were without RJ Barrett, who missed his second game with a sprained left ankle, and center Nerlens Noel, who suffered from left foot pain.

The Knicks were cold early on and Portland took a Hart-paced 12-2 lead with a pair of 3-pointers. New York eventually warmed up, taking a 53-48 halftime lead.

Rookie Quentin Grimes hit two straight runs to push the Knicks lead to 72-56 in the third.

Nurkic finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds for Portland.

“Competitiveness, tenacity, discipline. Everything that matters. Everyone goes through tough times on a road trip. Thirty-five to 11 in the 4th quarter, badly passed, it will be difficult to win this game,” said New York coach Tom Thibodeau.

The game was played at 2 p.m. local time, which was unusual for a Saturday game in Portland, but it was one of the NBA games this season designated for primetime television in Europe.

ADVICE

Knicks: Saturday’s game marked the end of a five-game road trip. … It was the first of two games against the Blazers this season. … Grimes made his fourth start of the season. … The Knicks were coming off a 116-114 win at Golden State that snapped a four-game losing streak.

Trail Blazers: Elijah Hughes, acquired from the Utah Jazz with Joe Ingles in a three-team trade on Wednesday, made his debut for the Blazers. Ingles is out for the season with a torn left ACL. … Hart had a season-best 13 points in the first half. … Portland beat the Lakers 107-105 on Wednesday to snap a six-game skid.

TO BOOK OR NOT TO BOOK?

Although the Blazers are clearly looking to the future with recent roster changes, they have had two thrilling wins, first against the Lakers and then comeback Saturday against the Knicks. This is not the type of race for fans hungry for high lottery choice.

“For the fans that want to see us lose, I guess just turn off the TV when it gets close,” Billups joked.

FOLLOWING

Knicks: Host Oklahoma City Monday night.

Trail Blazers: Visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

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