Lillard scores 30, Trail Blazers beat Knicks 104-85
NEW YORK (AP) Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers started March the same way they finished February.
Lillard scored 30 points, CJ McCollum had 21 of his 25 in the second half and Portland beat the New York Knicks 104-85 on Tuesday night for its sixth straight road victory.
Lillard reached the 30-point mark for the eighth time in nine games and had 14, nearly half of them, in the final 4:25 of the first half. The Blazers won for the 18th time in their last 22 games.
''It feels great. You feel like you get any sniff at the rim or any look at the rim, they got a great chance of going in,'' Lillard said. ''Some of those plays they defended well. I just was in a good groove at the time.''
He meant the second-quarter outburst, but he may as well have been referring to the last month.
Portland went 9-2 in February for its third-best record in that month in franchise history. Lillard averaged 29.8 points in 11 games last month, fourth in the league, and his seven 30-point games tied with Stephen Curry for most in the NBA.
Nothing changed with the calendar, as the Blazers moved to 3-0 halfway through their road trip.
''We're getting better,'' coach Terry Stotts said. ''The goal was to get better as the season went on and I think the growth we've made, winning close games, winning games on the road, holding leads, all those things speaks to the improvement of the individuals on the team.''
Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, so hopeless in their 15th loss in 18 games that fans spent much of the fourth quarter chanting for Jimmer Fredette, who is nearing the end of his 10-day contract. The former college player of the year got in for the final 3:13, quickly gave up a 3-pointer to Lillard and finished with four points.
Anthony had an exchange toward the end with a fan who was just as frustrated as the Knicks.
''All I did was I pointed to (James) Dolan, and told him, `Look, the owner's right there. Ask for your money back,''' Anthony said. ''At that point, he's calling me to tell me that he's never coming to another game and we suck, you just don't want to hear that.''
Portland won its fourth straight at Madison Square Garden and Stotts improved to 7-1 against the Knicks as Blazers coach.
Portland had a one-point lead when Lillard re-entered with 4:25 left in the first half. He quickly nailed a jumper, two 3-pointers and three free throws, and added another 3 that gave the Blazers a 58-50 lead at the break.
McCollum took over from there, with seven points in the first 3 minutes of the third to push the lead into double figures. He closed the period with two baskets around Allen Crabbe's 3-pointer to make it 85-72 heading to a fourth quarter that was never close.
''We had trouble containing their guards most of the night,'' Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis said.
Trail Blazers: Stotts was the Western Conference coach of the month for February, tying Rick Adelman and Nate McMillan for the most by a Trail Blazers coach. He previously won the award in December 2014 and November 2013.
Knicks: New York had zero assists on its 11 first-quarter baskets. ... Anthony had an embarrassing moment in the first quarter when he tried to dunk in frustration after a whistle for a ball out of bounds, but instead slammed the ball into the rim and ended up falling onto his back near the free-throw line.
Stotts was asked if Lillard had a case to win West player of the month honors. ''Yup. I hope so,'' Stotts said. ''I don't know who makes that decision but certainly there's a case. We wouldn't have had the month without him.'' The players of the month for February, chosen by the league office, will be announced Thursday afternoon.
The teams wore special warmup shirts reading Los Blazers and Nueva York as part of the NBA's Latin Nights program that runs in March. There will be nine games where a team will wear a special uniform in Spanish, including the Knicks in Nueva York uniforms on March 24 against Chicago.
Trail Blazers: Visit Boston on Wednesday.
Knicks: Visit Boston on Friday.