Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, left, drives to the basket against...

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, left, drives to the basket against Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, right, during the first half of an NBA game in Portland, Ore., on Thursday. Credit: AP/Steve Dykes

PORTLAND, Ore. — The outcome of the game never really seemed in doubt as the Knicks took the floor against a shell of a Trail Blazers team. It was a night in which they just needed to do their jobs and escape unscathed.

But as the Knicks were pulling away in their 105-93 win at the Moda Center, they saw the one thing they didn’t want to see: OG Anunoby dangling his right arm, clearly feeling some discomfort in his surgically repaired elbow.

Jalen Brunson fought through waves of defenders to score 45 points in 37:56, exceeded only by his 50-point performance at Phoenix in December. Anunoby chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds in 35:43 as the Knicks moved to 39-27.

With 3:35 left in the first half, Anunoby reached in and knocked the ball loose from Portland center Deandre Ayton, but as soon as he did it, he grimaced in pain. As play stopped, he headed to the bench, where he remained for the rest of the half — talking with training staff and having his arm wrapped in a heat pack.

When the Knicks took the court for warmups before the third quarter, Anunoby was one of the first players out there. But after just one shot attempt, he retreated to the bench, speaking with trainer Anthony Goenaga, and then remained on the bench for the entire warmup session before joining the starting unit on the floor as play began.

“It’s just sore,” he said. “Nothing really happened. Just went for a ball. And it hurt randomly, but it’s fine. It’s going to be sore. So that’s expected. I’m just starting to play. It’s going to be fine.”

“I feel like if he’s hurt, he wouldn’t play,” Brunson said. “I think a lot of us have mindsets like that. But he went back out there, so that’s a telling sign. He’s tough, and obviously we want the best for everybody. We want everyone to be healthy first and foremost. But I mean, if you go back out there, that means you’re good. Things are going to happen. You’re going to get banged up. We’ve got to get everyone back and just make sure we all take care of each other first.”

Anunoby played 9:33 before getting a breather with the Knicks up by 18. He seemed to favor the elbow, grabbing his arm after almost every play as he worked to defend. He missed badly on his only three-point attempt of the half but also had a reverse dunk and then a steal and coast-to-coast two-handed dunk.

He came back with 10:29 left in the game and the Knicks’ lead down to 13, but just 13 seconds later, he tried to defend against Ayton at the rim and immediately grasped the elbow again. After that, he seemed to close out and try to take contact with his left arm and even used his off hand to attempt a pair of layups in the fourth quarter.

Anunoby stayed on the floor until the final buzzer as the Knicks struggled to put the game away. The Blazers (19-47) drew within 11 after trailing by 22.

Anunoby had just returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing 18 games, shutting down Jan. 29 with elbow pain and then undergoing a surgical procedure to remove a loose fragment on Feb. 8. The Knicks were 12-2 after his arrival in a trade from Toronto and then just 8-10 without Anunoby and Julius Randle. Anunoby’s first game back was a success for both him and the team, and with this win, the Knicks are 14-2 in games in which he has played,

“There’s gonna be some times where there’s gonna be soreness,” Tom Thibodeau said. “He played through it. He was fine. Medical looked at him. There’s gonna be times where he gets hit and you just try to keep going. So we’ll see where he is.”

Asked if this was expected, Thibodeau added, “Yeah, yeah. And that’s communication with he and the trainers. So we knew that stuff like that is gonna happen.”

Notes & quotes:  Thibodeau said before the game that Brunson has had his minutes limited since sitting out one game with a left knee contusion last week. “It’s more of a guideline,” Thibodeau said. “He’s coming off an injury. It’s not his normal. When he can play, you always have the answer sitting there, when it’s a normal thing. He’s feeling better now. So he should be back to what he normally is.”


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