‘Good vibe from the jump’: Matthews and soaring Portland Trail Blazers sink hapless Knicks

Wesley Matthews scored 28 points and made six three-pointers on Sunday as Portland beat down New York 101-79 in the NBA.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, right, shoot a three-pointer against the New York Knicks during his team's NBA victory on Sunday. Don Ryan / AP / December 28, 2014
Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, right, shoot a three-pointer against the New York Knicks during his team's NBA victory on Sunday. Don Ryan / AP / December 28, 2014

Wesley Matthews got a chance to practice his bow-and-arrow three-point celebration in the NBA on Sunday night.

Matthews made six three-pointers and finished with 28 points, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to a 101-79 victory over the short-handed New York Knicks.

Matthews, around when the Blazers perfected the so-called “3 Goggles” some four years ago, and then toyed with the “3 Holster” gesture, now punctuates his three-pointers by shooing an imaginary arrow.

Matthews, who leads the NBA with 106 three-pointers this season, made five threes in the first half against the Knicks. Teammate Nicolas Batum had five three-pointers and finished with 17 points.

The Blazers went 16-for-36 from long range on the night. They have made at least 10 threes in five of their last six games.

“It’s contagious. It was just a good vibe from the jump,” Matthews said. “I think I missed the first one, but then Nic hit one, Damian (Lillard) hit one and I think the floodgates really opened.”

It was the eighth straight loss for the Knicks, who had just nine available players to start the game, and then lost Carmelo Anthony for the second half because of a sore left knee.

Cole Aldrich had 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for New York, and Tim Hardaway Jr scored 17 points.

Portland, who led by as many as 27 points, have won eight of their last nine games. The Blazers are 25-7 and have the most wins in the NBA.

But Portland were again without all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, who has missed three of the last four games with an upper respiratory illness, including the Blazers’ 114-93 victory over Philadelphia on Friday.

The Knicks were without JR Smith, who is having ongoing issues with his left heel. Samuel Dalembert was sidelined by a sprained right ankle, and Amare Stoudemire missed the game with a sore right knee.

To make matters worse, Anthony, who missed two games earlier this season because of his knee, did not return for the second half. Anthony had 36 points in a 135-129 overtime loss at Sacramento on Saturday night.

The high-scoring forward had 13 points in the first half, but grimaced at times in pain.

“Tonight it feels like fatigue, and not getting a chance to recover from last night,” Anthony said. “I felt this before the game, but I looked around the locker room and we have seven or eight guys ready to go – I really didn’t have a choice but to go out there and attempt to play and see how much I could take.”

Batum hit a three to extend Portland’s lead to 50-32 in the second. At that moment of the game, 30 of Portland’s points were from three-pointers by either Matthews or Batum.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Spurs 110 (19-13), Rockets 106 (21-8)

Danny Green had 24 points and the injury-depleted San Antonio Spurs beat the Houston Rockets 110-106 on Sunday night, snapping a six-game skid against their intrastate rivals.

Tim Duncan scored 16 points and Manu Ginobili had 15 for San Antonio, who won for first time in three games.

James Harden had 28 points for Houston, and Dwight Howard added 24 points and 17 rebounds. The Rockets’ newest additions had differing levels of success: Corey Brewer scored 25 points, but Josh Smith finished with five points on 2-of-7 shooting.

Green made four straight free throws in the final minute, helping San Antonio avoid going into overtime for the fourth time in their last six home games.

The Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard (bruised right hand) and Tony Parker (mild strain left hamstring).]

Suns 116 (18-14), Lakers 107 (9-22)

Goran Dragic scored 24 points, Eric Bledsoe had 20 of his 22 after half-time, and Phoenix earned their sixth consecutive victory.

Isaiah Thomas added 15 points for the balanced Suns, who haven’t lost with their new starting line-up. Phoenix weathered an impressive Los Angeles surge in the final minutes for their seventh win in eight meetings with the Lakers, who lost their third straight despite Kobe Bryant’s return.

Bryant had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes during his first game back from a three-game absence to rest his aching 36-year-old body.

Nick Young hit four three-pointers and scored 21 points while taking up Kobe’s scoring slack again for the Lakers, who got within one point late.

Mavericks 112 (22-10), Thunder 107 (15-17)

Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 30 points for Dallas, and Chandler Parsons added 26.

The Mavericks rallied from seven points down to start the fourth quarter. They were without centre Tyson Chandler, a late scratch with back spasms.

The Thunder played their sixth straight game without Kevin Durant because of a sprained right ankle. They fell short in their third chance to reach .500 for the first time after Durant and Russell Westbrook were sidelined by injuries for 14 of the first 16 games.

Serge Ibaka led Oklahoma City with a season-high 26 points.

Pistons 103 (7-23), Cavaliers (18-12)

Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, and the Pistons used an 18-0 run in the second quarter to roll past the Cavaliers.

It was Cleveland’s second blowout loss at home in less than two weeks. The Cavaliers lost 127-98 to Atlanta on December 17, and the convincing victory for Detroit drew boos from the home crowd.

Andre Drummond had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, who were coming off a 119-109 victory over Indiana on Friday.

Detroit also set a franchise record for made three-pointers by going 17-for-31 from long range.

Kevin Love had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, and LeBron James finished with 17 points, 10 boards and seven assists.

Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving missed his second straight game because of a bruised left knee.

Raptors 116 (24-7), Nuggets 102 (13-18)

Kyle Lowry had 30 points and 11 assists, leading Toronto to the win.

Lou Williams scored 31 points as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors completed a sweep of the season series against Denver. They also beat the Nuggets 112-107 in overtime on December 8.

The Raptors have won seven of eight.

Ty Lawson led Denver with 28 points, and Wilson Chandler had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Kenneth Faried, who had 26 points and a career-best 25 rebounds in Friday’s win over Minnesota, had 17 points and 19 boards for the Nuggets, who have lost three of four.

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Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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