Monday night basketball was an evening of entertainment to say the least. Former NBA Richard Jefferson was also on hand to officiate his first NBA game. The mood was much lighter than a typical NBA game but the start for Portland was abysmal. Portland was coming off a huge win against New Orleans and looked to keep that momentum going. However, the New York Knicks went off on an 11-0 lead quickly. While the Trail Blazers just looked sloppy and not ready for this one.
Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride took over the game from the start. Knocking down three’s and just flat out dominating Portland from the tip. By the end of the first quarter New York was up 24-9. If you were a Trail Blazers fan it was hard to keep watching and most likely going to be a blow out. Jabari Walker had 3 points and 3 defensive rebounds with limited minutes by the half.
Little by little Portland was climbing back. Their defense locked in and slowed down the Knicks offense. More important the Trail Blazers were finally making shots. The Knicks no longer looked like the unstoppable force from the start, and with 7 minutes left in the half Keon Johnson tied the game at 28. Trendon Waterford had him self a spectacular first half with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
By the third quarter Portland started to maintain and hold their lead after being down big. Slowly and by surprise to us all they were pulling away from a Knicks team that made the Blazers look like a joke in the first quarter. It only goes to show you that you never give up. And as long as you keep fighting and believe in yourself, and the players around you anything is possible.
Jabari Walker had a marvelous rebound and up-and-in shot in the third where he was up to 5 points and 7 boards. However, it was the fourth quarter where the second-round pick from Colorado came alive. Though his defense was stellar throughout. Portlands defense had settled in and their offense was becoming as smooth as ice. He was 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 at the three point line. Walker was fouled late in the fourth and sent to the free-throw line where he would make two shots and extend his points in the game to 16. The best performance Walker has had yet. Making it his first NBA double-double for the once double-double master for the Colorado Buffaloes. He added 13 rebounds and 11 of them defensively.
Trendon Waterford had a masterful game finishing up with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Keon Johnson had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the game. Jabari was the second leading scorer of the contest with his 16 which helped carry Portland to a 88-77 victory. That takes their NBA 2K23 Summer League record to 2-1. It was a rough start for the pride of Rip City but they ended up beating New York in all aspects on the floor regardless.
Quentin Grimes led the way for the Knicks with 24 points, followed by Miles McBride with 16. With a better performance off the bench for them this could have been a much closer game.
Portland will now go on to face another 2-1 squad in the Houston Rockets on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET at the Thomas & Mack Center. It will air on EPSN 3 this time around as they search for their third win.