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Blazers hold off Knicks, open trip on winning note

NEW YORK — Damian Lillard’s step-back 3-pointer with 35.2 seconds to go was the biggest basket in the Trail Blazers’ 105-100 victory over New York Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Portland (16-14) never trailed in the opener of a four-game road trip, but saw a 19-point lead snipped to three late in the game.

Nicolas Batum had 26 points, six assists and four rebounds for the Blazers, who got at least 18 points from four starters. Lillard contributed 21 points, six assists and five rebounds, LaMarcus Alridge added 19 points and 14 rebounds and J.J. Hickson had 18 points and nine boards — all but one rebound in the first half.

Carmelo Anthony bombed in 45 points and J.R. Smith had 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists off the bench for New York (21-10).

Hickson collected 18 points and eight rebounds in staking Portland to a 58-47 edge at halftime. Anthony had 24 points in 8-for-11 shooting at the break.

With Batum knocking down a pair of early 3-pointers, Portland got off to a good start, jumping ahead 17-10 and taking a 30-23 lead into the second quarter.

The Blazers extended their advantage to 46-27 midway through the quarter, but New York closed strong, with Anthony banking in a desperation three at the buzzer to finish an 11-2 run.

The Knicks went on a 12-4 tear at the start of the third quarter to draw within 62-59. But Batum scored 11 points in the quarter as the Blazers went into the final period ahead 78-71.

After Luke Babbitt buried a trey, Portland was on top 96-81 with 4 1/2 minutes to play. The Knicks followed with a 13-2 run to get within 98-94 on Smith’s putback with 1:25 remaining. Aldridge answered with a rebound basket to extend the lead to 100-94, but Anthony’s three made it 100-97 with 55 seconds on the clock.

Lillard’s three with 35.2 seconds remaining pushed the margin to 103-97, but Anthony drove, was fouled by Hickson on a dunk with 29.3 seconds left to make it 103-100.

Lillard was tied up on Portland’s next possession, and the Knicks controlled the tip. Anthony’s 3-pointer was off and the Blazers rebounded with 13.8 seconds left. Wesley Matthews sank a pair of free throws and the game was Portland’s.

NOTES — Portland continues its trip Wednesday night at Toronto. ... Matthews returned to the Portland lineup, scoring eight points with three rebounds in 30 minutes. ...The Blazers shot .556 and held a huge advantage in rebounds (26-13) and points in the paint (32-12) at the half. ... Anthony scored 17 of New York’s first 29 points. ... Hickson drew his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and played only sparingly from that point. ... Amare Stoudmire made his season debut after missing two months following left knee surgery. New York’s veteran center missed his first five shots from the field and finished with six points and one rebounds in 17 minutes. ... New York’s reserves outscored the Blazer bench 40-13. ... New York scored 27 points off 16 Portland turnovers, but the Blazers had the edge in rebounds (47-37) and points in the paint (48-36) ... Portland is 11-1 when leading after three quarters. ... The Knicks’ home record fell to 12-3.