LAS VEGAS — The only way the Knicks are going to leave Sin City with new bling is by hitting the jewelry store.
Their goal of winning a summer league title took a major hit Monday night. After back-to-back blowout wins, they were unable to build off of a strong start in an 88-77 loss to the Trail Blazers at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Their energy, defensive tenacity and overall sharpness was lacking in their second game in as many days as Portland pulled away late. Quentin Grimes was the best Knick, scoring 24 points along with three steals, and Miles McBride added 16 points, four assists and three steals. Jabari Walker had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
Unlike Saturday night’s blowout of the Bulls, the opponent punched back. The Knicks led 13-0 out of the gate, and held a 26-13 edge at one point, but the Trail Blazers found another gear after their flat start.
Portland led by one at halftime and by as many as five points late in the third quarter. The Knicks seemed to have tired legs, their shots frequently short. After scoring 24 points in the opening court, they managed just 33 over the next 20 minutes.
The Knicks will face the Magic on Thursday, followed by a game to be announced. The Knicks will not see No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero, as Orlando has shut him down for the rest of summer league.