PORTLAND, Ore. -- On Mike Woodson’s one-year anniversary as Knicks coach, he was forced to use lineups and rotations he probably never envisioned playing. The result was what most envisioned, though.
Playing without Carmelo Anthony, who had the fluid drained from his right knee Thursday; Tyson Chandler, who bruised his left knee Wednesday night, and Amar’e Stoudemire (right knee surgery), the Knicks fought to try to get their first win on this five-game trip Thursday night. But they squandered a 10-point first-half lead and dropped to 0-3 with a 105-90 loss to the Trail Blazers.
The Knicks cut a 16-point deficit to 80-76 with 7:54 left, but the Blazers pulled away with a 15-2 run, opening a 95-78 lead with 4:24 remaining. Now the Knicks’ Atlantic Division lead over the Nets is down to one game.
“I don’t accept any losses,” Woodson said. “I’m very competitive and I want these guys to be competitive. It’s not OK to lose. Right now it’s tough times.”
J.R. Smith led the Knicks (38-25) with 33 points. Kenyon Martin started for the first time and scored 12 points, but he left late in the game with a shin injury. Former Trail Blazer Raymond Felton, who was booed every time he touched the ball, had 11 points. Marcus Camby, who did not play at all Wednesday night against Denver, had eight points and 10 rebounds in 19:02.
The Blazers’ starters outscored the Knicks’ first team of Felton, Iman Shumpert, Martin, Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland 90-44.
Woodson, who replaced Mike D’Antoni and won his debut, coincidentally, against the Blazers, has compiled a 56-31 record as the Knicks’ coach. But these have been three straight bad losses — by a total of 67 points.
The Knicks made 21 of their first 32 shots and led by 10 points but shot 15-for-50 the rest of the way.
“We competed,” Smith said. “We just didn’t compete smart.”
After using good ball movement and strong defense to open a 48-38 lead with 3:43 left in the first half, the Knicks stumbled on both ends. They were outscored 40-14 over a 15:23 span and trailed 78-62 after three quarters.
But the Knicks opened the fourth with a 14-2 run to get within four. They had a chance to draw closer, but Pablo Prigioni’s turnover led to Aldridge’s fast-break layup.
After another Knicks turnover, Lillard buried a three-pointer to make it 85-76 with 6:25 left. Felton sank two free throws, but the Blazers scored nine straight, capped by a three-pointer by Lillard that made it a 17-point game.
“I thought we were a little better in terms of competing, but at the end of the night, it’s still a loss,” Woodson said. “We’ve got to somehow get off this slide.”