PORTLAND, Ore. — The Blazers didn’t need a torrid Carmelo Anthony to bludgeon the Knicks in the opener of a four-game western trip.
With Anthony struggling early, the Blazers still dominated the Knicks, winning a rout, 115-87, and showing the visiting team’s issues run deeper than David Fizdale’s coaching skill.
The mediocre Blazers, who moved to 10-15, rallied from an early 7-2 deficit as Damian Lillard was unstoppable against the sluggish Knicks.
The Blazers built a 21-point lead late in the first half and led by as many as 32 in interim coach Mike Miller’s second game.
After an awful first half, Anthony rallied strongly in garbage time to finish with 16 points, adding insult to injury.
The Knicks’ losing streak is now at 10 games — their record falling to a league-worst 4-20. They will try not to blow a chance to snap it Wednesday in San Francisco against what is left of the Golden State Warriors, who are 5-20.
Tuesday’s performance at the Moda Center was a major disappointment, considering the Knicks had played with a renewed sharpness in Miller’s debut Saturday — a one-point loss to Indiana. Despite arriving two days before the game to get used to the time zone, it wound up like so many of Fizdale’s blowout losses.
Carmelo Anthony and the Blazers face the Knicks on Tuesday night.NBAE via Getty Images
Instead of Anthony punishing the Knicks early, Lillard and young reserve Anfernee Simons did it. Simons drained 3 of 4 3-pointers in the first half as the Blazers took a 60-41 lead at the intermission.
In the second game under Miller, the Knicks looked a lot more lethargic than in their first and couldn’t shoot straight. They shot 34 percent in the first half — 2 of 15 from the 3-point line. That’s on president Steve Mills, who built this roster.
In his first game this season in the Pacific time zone, Knicks rookie RJ Barrett disintegrated — going 1 of 9 for five points, logging just 19 minutes.
With Lillard going for 25 of his 31 points in the first half, the Blazers were able to survive a slow start by Anthony, who was 1 of 6 in the first half with three turnovers. He heated up in the second half, making three 3s and finishing 5 of 13 from the field.
Things started well enough when Julius Randle buried a 3-pointer on the first possession and Anthony shot a brick over Barrett.
Anthony wallowed early, throwing a pass away, missing a pair of free throws and shooting and committing three turnovers to zero assists by intermission.
Anthony, who was 4 of 18 Sunday versus 0 Oklahoma City, soared in the third quarter. The ex-Knick hit back-to-back jumpers in the period to put the Blazers up 71-46. Then Anthony nailed a 3-pointer with 9:09 left to give Portland its biggest lead, 30 points.
Miller looked agitated on the sidelines. After another open Portland 3-pointer, he hopped out of his seat, marched to mid-court and called timeout.
In one of the weirdest moments of the night, another ex-Knick, Mario Hezonja, drove through the Knicks defense for a monster slam, then picked up a technical for hanging on the rim too long.
Before the game, Randle joked about his matchup with Anthony, “The plan’s going to work. He’s not going to score,’’ Randle said. “It’s going to be crazy. He’s not going to score one time. What is he? Top 13 in points? It’s going to be his first scoreless game ever.”
He was in a good mood, feeling Miller had added some things that could help. Randle finished with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
“Has it changed with the new coaching change the way I play?,’’ Randle said. “My approach doesn’t change. We’re doing a few different things. A little bit different positions in the short time we’ve had the coaching change. There’s a little bit more movement, spacing, that type of stuff. New sets, stuff like that. Trying to open up things a little bit more.”
Asked if he’s hopeful more room will exist in the paint where the 6-9 power forward excels, Randle chimed, “Yeah, I hope so, man. I hope so. It’s a process.”
The process might be a long one for this Knicks’ team.
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