The New York Knicks visit Portland tonight only hours removed from the double digit loss to the Denver Nuggets in which Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were lost to injuries. Amare Stoudemire is unlikely to play tonight as well after sitting last night in Denver. New York will have to turn to J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton, who returns to the Rose Garden for the first time since wearing a Blazer uniform, to carry the scoring load.
Raymond Felton, who often appeared out of shape last year, received much of the blame for the failures of the Trail Blazers last season. It’s common for a player to downplay their return to a former team, but it’s safe to assume Felton will bring a little extra motivation to the game tonight.
Portland has lost two games in a row and is on the second game of a three game home stand. The Blazers will look to take advantage of the shorthanded Knicks tonight. In a 105-100 victory in New York on New Year’s Day the Blazers relied on their starters to carry the load. LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 19 points and gathered 14 rebounds in the last meeting, will look to exploit the lack of interior defense tonight.
As the Trail Blazers fall farther out of contention for the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how Terry Stott’s rotation is affected. Expect more minutes for Meyers Leonard and Will Barton as front office looks to the future and contemplates how to use the team’s cap space this offseason.