After cooling off one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers take on one of the league's lesser squads when they host the New York Knicks on Monday. Behind 25 points and 15 rebounds from Jusuf Nurkic and a solid defensive job on Houston superstar James Harden, the Blazers snapped the Rockets' six-game winning streak with a 110-101 triumph Saturday.
Harden, who had scored at least 40 points in five straight games and entered the game with back-to-back triple-doubles, finished with 38 points but needed 35 shots to get there and was 5-of-17 from 3-point range. "Well, we held him under 40, so I guess that's a win," Portland coach Terry Stotts quipped with reporters after his team was victorious for the eighth time in its last 12 games. The Knicks do not have anyone even remotely on Harden's level as they endure another rebuilding campaign, but they did manage to snap an eight-game slide with a 119-112 win at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Tim Hardaway Jr. led a balanced attack with 22 points as New York had its best offensive output in a regulation game since Nov. 16.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), NBCS Northwest (Portland) LINE: Blazers -11.5
ABOUT THE KNICKS (10-29): Center Enes Kanter expressed displeasure over a recent reduction in playing time but he's making the most of his opportunities since the calendar turned to January, averaging 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes this month. Fellow reserves Trey Burke, Damyean Dotson and Mario Hezonja also scored in double figures at Los Angeles to help support a starting five that shot 19-for-60 from the floor. "I think this is a confidence-booster," Burke told reporters. "We've been in a lot of games, but it doesn't matter when you don't pull it out. ... That was putting together a complete second half. They went on a run, and we responded to it."
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (23-17): Evan Turner received a rare start in place of sidelined forward Maurice Harkless (knee) in Saturday's win and responded with 14 points while flustering the prolific Harden. "I just had to be aggressive and try to limit what he likes to do," Turner told reporters of defending Harden. "He's an amazing offensive player, he's been on a hell of a run and obviously he's the head of the snake, so I just tried to pick him up, wear him down, tire him out and not try to get any cheap fouls." CJ McCollum chipped in 24 points and played turnover-free basketball for the third time in a span of five games.
1. McCollum scored 31 points and G Damian Lillard added 29 to lead Portland to a 118-114 win at New York earlier this season.
2. Knicks PG Frank Ntilikana played just one minute Friday before injuring an ankle and is considered day-to-day.
3. Nurkic has six double-doubles over his last nine games and reached 20 in that category for the second straight season.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 117, Knicks 107 Bet Now
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