The New York Knicks' 94-90 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night was nowhere near as embarrassing as their previous defeat that came at the hands of the lowly Milwaukee Bucks. At least in losing to the Trail Blazers, the Knicks were losing to one of the more proficient teams in the NBA this season. Then again, losing a close affair to a good team is likely small consolation to the team since they had multiple chances to win the contest, but were unable to capitalize on them. In that way, it was a repetition of the loss to the Bucks.
Entering the fourth quarter of Wednesday's contest, the Knicks were only down by nine points. With 12 minutes left in the game, there was plenty of time for the Knicks to make a comeback, especially considering what a lackluster offensive performance the Trail Blazers were turning in. In what was an incredibly off night for the Trail Blazers, they only posted an effective field goal percentage of 43.0 percent and scored only 103.0 points per 100 possessions, well below their usual efficient offensive output.
With the Blazers being so kind as to miss from the field on such a frequent basis, the game was very much in reach for the Knicks in the fourth quarter even when one factors that the Knicks were not exactly shooting lights-out, either. The Knicks also struggled from the field as they posted a pitiful effective field goal percentage of 42.2 percent for the game. Yet, the Knicks were still able to close the gap to just one point with 8:15 remaining in the final period.
Having decreased the Trail Blazers' lead by eight points in less than four minutes of play, it looked more and more likely that the Knicks would continue their scoring surge and end up wresting the lead completely away from their opponent. However, as has been the case far too often, when the Knicks needed to stop their opponent from scoring in order to complete the comeback, they were simply unable to do so.
One point was as close as the Knicks came to the Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter, and the final 8:15 of the game involved the Trail Blazers outscoring the Knicks by three points as they were continually able to score just enough points at just the right times in order to keep the Knicks at bay.
In staving off defeat, the Trail Blazers received help from the Knicks on multiple occasions as the Knicks refused to play defense without sending the Trail Blazers to the free throw line. For the game, the Trail Blazers attempted 33 free throws, making 26, repeating the benefits of the almost free points they were awarded by the Knicks and more than making up for their deficiencies in the field goal making department.
The Knicks really only have themselves to blame for the defeat suffered on Wednesday. Yes, the Trail Blazers are the superior team, but they were having an off night and the game was right there for the taking for the Knicks. Unfortunately, they have not mastered, and probably never well this season, the art of getting clutch defensive stops and allowed the game to slip from their fingers. The result was their third straight defeat and the continuation of a disappointing season.