Trail Blazers look to keep rolling against Knicks
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers have been on a sweet ride of late, and they want very much for it to continue.
The Trail Blazers kept it rolling with a 108-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center Monday night, extending their season-long win streak to seven games.
Damian Lillard scored 19 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter as the Blazers rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 5:26 to end the Lakers' five-game win streak.
Portland (38-26) now returns home to face the flailing New York Knicks (24-40), who have lost in 12 of their last 13 outings, at Moda Center.
The Knicks nearly got one Sunday at Sacramento, losing 102-99 to the Kings after Skal Labissiere hit a 3-point shot with 1.6 seconds left. New York coach Jeff Hornacek was pleased the Knicks rallied from a 19-point deficit to tie the game, but not with what he considered a less-than-adequate effort from his players throughout the game -- a complaint he has had often of late.
"OK, we're not in the playoffs," Hornacek told reporters. "But you still have to play with a sense of desperation every time you get on the court. These guys have opportunities to show the league what they can do. A lot of them have been bench guys on other teams, or in the G-League or something. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they happen.
"I think some of the guys think they are playing hard. I'm sure these guys are thinking, 'I'm playing as hard as I can.' But there is a different level between playing hard and playing with that desperation to do anything it takes to win. That's an internal thing."
The Knicks have lost in 11 of their last 13 meetings with the Blazers, including a 103-91 defeat at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27 in which Damian Lillard scored 32 points.
Since Christmas, Portland has lost only one of 14 games at Moda Center.
"It's good to be able to give our fans something to be happy about," guard CJ McCollum said. "With how close the West is, we can't afford to lose games at home. We've done a good job as of late."
Lillard likes the resolve the Blazers are displaying at both ends of the court.
"We're really showing our growth," he said. "We're continuing to stay locked in. Right now, we're playing good basketball. If shots aren't falling, we're not letting that dictate how we defend, how we communicate and our energy. We're controlling games with our consistency."
The Blazers are getting good play out of rookie center Zach Collins, who came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points, making 5 of 6 shots while grabbing five rebounds in a Saturday home victory over Oklahoma City.
"For a rookie to be out there in big moments like that in such a huge game against players of that level, Zach was great," Lillard said. "It gives him confidence, but it gives his teammates even more confidence in what he's capable of. It's cool to see a young guy have that kind of moment."
Updated March 6, 2018