A key to any game against Portland is containing one of the NBA’s best backcourts, but the Nets also had their hands full Thursday night against the Trail Blazers’ fortified big-man corps.
All-Star guard Damian Lillard missed 16 of 21 shots and scored only 13 points, but extra-large Portland center Jusuf Nurkic and former Knick Enes Kanter totaled 45 points and 21 rebounds in the Trail Blazers’ 113-99 victory at Barclays Center.
The 7-foot, 275-pound Nurkic scored 16 of his 27 points in the second half. Kanter shot 8-for-9 and had 18 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in his first game since the Knicks released him on Feb. 7.
“The last time I got a win, I think it was like almost two months,” said a smiling Kanter, whose previous victory with the Knicks had come on Jan. 4. “Winning feels good again. I’m just having fun out there again.”
Jarrett Allen (12 points, 11 rebounds) and backup Ed Davis (15 points, 10 rebounds) each had a double-double for the Nets but also committed 11 fouls. The Nets (30-30) lost for the sixth time in eight games.
The Blazers finished the game with a 60-49 rebounding edge, including 19 on the offensive glass.
“They definitely killed us on the boards tonight, Kanter and Nurk and the rest of the guys,” said Davis, who left Portland to sign with the Nets as a free agent last summer. “To win games, you definitely need to get stops and defensive rebounds.”
Asked what he expects Kanter to bring to his new team, Portland coach Terry Stotts said “to just do what he does” on the offensive end, which should make for a formidable tag team with Nurkic.
Kanter said of Nurkic, “I think he is one of the biggest and toughest big men in the league. He kind of plays like I do, physical game, rebounding, post-ups . . . We just want to get better from now on.
“I felt rusty. I haven’t really played any games in probably like a month now. But that’s what Coach said to me: ‘You don’t even know the plays and you got 18 points.’ ”
“He’s a really good rebounder, he’s a good scorer, he’s an elite offensive rebounder,” Stotts said of Kanter. “I think he has a really good feel on how to play offensively as far as just playing the game without having plays, handling as a trailer, ball screens, handoffs, things like that. Defensively, we’ll just plug him in to what we do.”
Notes & quotes: The Nets held a moment of silence before the game for Brooklyn Dodgers legend Don Newcombe, who died earlier this week at 92 . . . They also honored YES broadcaster Ian Eagle’s 25 years with the team at midcourt during the second quarter, with video messages from former stars Derrick Coleman, Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter and Jason Kidd.