Amar'e rusty in return as Knicks fall

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 01, 2013
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The Portland Trail Blazers overcame Carmelo Anthony's season high-tying 45 points and spoiled Amare Stoudemire's season debut, beating the New York Knicks 105-100 on Tuesday night. Nicolas Batum scored 26 points, Damian Lillard had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Portland. Stoudemire finished with six points on 3-of-8 shooting and one rebound in 17 minutes off the bench in his return from knee surgery. Anthony shot 14 of 24 and nearly led the Knicks back from 19 points down after missing two games with a knee injury, but the Trail Blazers had too many options. J.J. Hickson scored all of his 18 points in the first half as Portland won for the third time in four games. Anthony had missed the previous two games with a hyperextended left knee. The Knicks are still without point guard Raymond Felton because of a broken pinky finger and struggled to get their offense going until too late, losing for the third time in four games. J.R. Smith had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks. Stoudemire had surgery on Oct. 31 to clean up tissue in his left knee and decided to play after going through a couple of practices this week, though adding he wasn't yet 100 percent. The former All-Star who has battled injuries in recent years was clearly rusty but showed he can still finish at the rim when set up properly. Coach Mike Woodson wouldn't say how long Stoudemire would remain a reserve. Stoudemire and Anthony have struggled to play together and the Knicks have a losing record when both play, but Woodson has said the Knicks need both of them on the floor to have a shot at a championship. Stoudemire was already done for the night when the Knicks made a late run, cutting an 11-point deficit with 3:16 remaining to 100-97 on Anthony's 3-pointer with 57 seconds left. Lillard answered with a 3-pointer, but the Knicks got it right back down to three again when Anthony converted a three-point play with 29 seconds to go. The Knicks forced a jump ball and Smith won it, but Anthony missed a 3-pointer. Wesley Matthews, back after missing four straight games with an injured left hip, made two free throws with 13 seconds left to close the scoring. Stoudemire got a standing ovation when he headed to the scorer's table before checking in with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter. The Knicks went right to him in the post, but he stepped on the baseline while making his move. The cheers turned to boos, not heard often this season during the Knicks' 12-2 start at home, just a few minutes later. Portland used an 11-0 run in the second quarter to extend a seven-point lead to 43-25 on Mathews' basket with 7:20 remaining. The lead was 19 when Stoudemire returned with 5:36 left and the Knicks scored seven straight points, but the Blazers regrouped and got it back to 18 after consecutive baskets by Hickson before Stoudemire sat down again. It was 58-47 at halftime after Anthony banked in a 3-pointer on a broken play with 0.1 seconds left. The Knicks looked better offensively when Stoudemire returned with 5:06 left in the third quarter and Portland leading by six. He got his first basket when Anthony found him inside with 3:11 left, and he showed his old explosive finishing ability with a dunk later in the period, but the Knicks couldn't close much of the gap because of their poor defense on Batum. The Frenchman scored 13 points and made three 3-pointers in the quarter, giving the Blazers a 78-71 advantage. Notes: The Knicks fell to 16-7 overall and 13-3 at home on New Year's Day. The record by an opponent for points against the Knicks on Jan. 1 is held by Woodson, who scored 36 for the Clippers in 1988. ... This was the Blazers' first trip to New York since last March 14, when the Knicks won 121-79 hours after Mike D'Antoni resigned and Woodson became the interim coach. Blazers coach Nate McMillan was fired the next day.
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