Backcourt scores 50 as Blazers blast Knicks

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[March 24, 2017]  PORTLAND, Ore. -- Much as the Portland Trail Blazers would like to paint a Rembrandt together, they remind themselves that the result is the important thing.

"We got the win," center Jusuf Nurkic said after Portland's 110-95 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday night at Moda Center. "That's all that matters."

Damian Lillard scored 30 points and CJ McCollum added 20 for the Trail Blazers (33-38), who won for the ninth time in 12 outings and climbed within a game of Denver (34-37) in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points and Courtney Lee chipped in 16 for the short-handed Knicks, who have lost seven of their last eight contests.

The Blazers were sharp in taking a commanding 67-46 lead at halftime. New York (27-45) didn't give up, though, closing to within 10 points late in the fourth quarter before Portland used a 10-0 run to put the verdict on ice.

"We played a really good first half at both ends of the floor," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "I was disappointed with the fact that New York cut it to 10. Some of that was (the Knicks) playing better, but they outworked us. We got loose with the ball. Some of our decision-making wasn't what it needed to be. But we finished strong, so that was a positive."

Lillard scored 19 points in staking Portland to the 21-point halftime lead. The Blazers shot .581 on 25-for-43 shooting while the Knicks fired at a .354 clip (17 for 48).

New York closed the gap to 77-64 late in the third quarter. The margin was 85-68 going into the final period.

The Knicks cut the difference to 95-83 on a basket by Porzingis with 5:44 remaining, then got to within 98-88 on a jumper by Courtney Lee with 4:02 to go.

But the Blazers scored 10 straight points -- seven of them by Lillard -- to put the game under wraps.

"It's a game of spurts," Lillard said. "We didn't have the urgency we would have liked in the third quarter. (The Knicks) went on a run, but I mean, they're NBA players. They play at this level for a reason.

"Confidence is everything. They saw a few shots go in and they put a little stretch together. But we did a good job keeping (the lead) in double digits, executing, keeping our poise, separating ourselves and getting a good win."

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Trail Blazers forward Noah Vonleh (21) and guard Damian Lillard (0) have some words with referee Dan Crawford (43) during the second half of the game against the New York Knicks at the Moda Center. The Blazers won the game 110-95. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

New York was without injured starters Carmelo Anthony (knee) and Derrick Rose, who both played in a loss at Utah Wednesday night. That put the onus on Porzingis, who missed his first five shots from the field and finished 8 for 21 overall, including 0 for 5 from 3-point range.

"The attention was more on me tonight," Porzingis said. "I had a lot of good looks, open 3's, and I was disappointed to miss them all. I missed a lot of good shots, and (making them) would have changed the whole game for us."

New York coach Jeff Hornacek was encouraged by the second-half effort.

"It was about just playing hard, getting after it," Hornacek said. "You're going to make mistakes as a young player, but if you play hard, sometimes those are hidden. The guys did a better job in the second half of getting the ball in to (teammates) when they had the advantage."

NOTES: C Jusuf Nurkic (16 points, 10 rebounds) notched his seventh double-double in his 16 games with Portland. ... Portland G Damian Lillard has scored 25 or more points in eight consecutive games. The only players in franchise history with a longer streak are Geoff Petrie (11) and Clyde Drexler (nine). Lillard has also scored 20-plus points in 10 straight games, the second-longest streak of his career. ... Portland coach Terry Stotts on 7-3 New York C Kristaps Porzingis: "I don't know that he fits any mold. He's such a unique player. He's mobile. He can play outside. He's very long. It's hard to pigeon-hole him into a spot." ... Blazers F Noah Vonleh matched his career high with 12 rebounds. ... New York was without F Carmelo Anthony (knee), G Derrick Rose (ankle) and F Lance Thomas (hip). ... The Knicks were playing the second of back-to-back games and their third game in four nights on the road.

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