And it was Rudy Fernandez, Joel Przybilla and the rest of the Blazers’ deep bench that won it for them.
Brandon Roy scored 23 points, and Portland dominated the fourth quarter to beat the tiring New York Knicks 104-97 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
“We had a group to come in and they got aggressive and we were able to gain control of the game,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “And you know, when you’re playing nine, 10 guys, if we play the way we condition ourselves to, we should be able to wear down some teams. I thought tonight, Duhon, in the third quarter he played well, but he looked like he wore down a little bit.”
And McMillan made sure his players were aware.
“Yeah, we seen it. Coach said they’re wearing down, they’ve got heavy legs, so let’s keep trying to push it at them,” Roy said. “Duhon played great tonight. They’ve got a number of guys that play hard, but in that fourth quarter you could see that our depth kind of outlasted them.”
The Knicks have been playing basically seven players because of trades, injuries and the Stephon Marbury situation. Duhon played 44 minutes with a bad back and missed all three shots in a scoreless fourth quarter after scoring a season-high 23 through the first three.
“Once the game is on, the adrenaline and you are competing, I don’t really think much about it,” Duhon said. “But at the aftermath, I definitely feel it afterwards. But I’ve been through this before, it’s nothing that’s going to slow me down or prohibit me from playing.”
Fernandez made a pair of 3-pointers early in the final period and scored 18 for the Trail Blazers, who shut down the Knicks’ high-powered offense for the first seven-plus minutes of the fourth and improved to 13-6, their best start after 19 games since the 1999-00 club was 15-4.
The Blazers shook off a dismal offensive night from rookie Greg Oden, who botched two dunks in the first five minutes and finished with two points, matching Kwame Brown for the lowest-scoring effort by a No. 1 overall pick in his Madison Square Garden debut in 40 years.
“Kind of stopped shooting after that one, because I usually don’t miss dunks,” Oden said.
Oden played only 19 minutes because Przybilla was dominant in the paint, finishing with 14 rebounds, eight points and two blocked shots.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points and Travis Outlaw 16 for the Blazers, who have won the first two games of their five-game Eastern Conference trip and are 6-0 against the East, their best start since winning their first 12 in 1990-91.
Duhon had 13 assists for the Knicks, who missed 10 of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter, when they were outscored 19-5. They didn’t reach 82 points—the total they had at halftime of their 138-125 victory against Golden State on Saturday—until Quentin Richardson’s two free throws with 4:49 remaining trimmed their deficit to eight.
David Lee finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“We saw some bodies dragging and a couple of guys had bad games,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “The guys that were playing well I think ran out of a little bit of steam.”
New York seemed in control after Duhon’s two free throws gave him 13 points in the third quarter and made it 75-67 with 2:05 left. The Knicks didn’t score again in the period, then Fernandez broke free in the fourth.
The Spanish rookie, greeted by chants of “Rudy!” when he first checked in, knocked down a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the quarter, and after a basket by Przybilla, Fernandez sank a pair of free throws and buried another 3 to make it 81-75 with 9:37 remaining.
“I had confidence and I had to make my shots the way I did with the Spanish national team,” said Fernandez, who nearly carried Spain to an upset of the U.S. Olympic team in the gold-medal game. “I was aggressive.”
The Knicks missed their first five shots in the period before Al Harrington’s basket, but Roy made a couple of baskets and Rodriguez added another bucket and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 90-80 with 5:40 left.
Lee and Tim Thomas both scored 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting in the first quarter, helping New York build a 31-24 lead. The Knicks led 51-49 after Lee tipped in Harrington’s missed 3-pointer as time expired.
Notes: D’Antoni said he hoped Nate Robinson (groin) and Jared Jeffries (leg) can play Friday at Atlanta. Jeffries has begun practicing after sitting out all season with a fractured fibula sustained in training camp. … Cazzie Russell (1966) and Jimmy Walker (1967) had the only other two-point outings in an MSG debut since 1966, when the NBA switched away from a territorial draft. … Portland won the last four meetings.