Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/5

Game 1: Friday, December 5th
Knicks81Final
Trail Blazers88
Game 2: Monday, March 29th
Trail Blazers91Final
Knicks92

Trail Blazers 91

(37-36, 13-23 away)

Knicks 92

(35-40, 22-17 home)

    Coverage: MSG

    7:30 PM ET, March 29, 2004

    Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 20 27 19 2591
    NY 20 24 20 2892

    Top Performers

    Por: D. Stoudamire 20 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    NY: T. Thomas 26 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl

    Baker's jump hook seals it

    NEW YORK (AP) -- This was the reason why the Knicks added Vin Baker.

    Baker made a jump hook over the outstretched arm of Theo Ratliff, the league's leading shot blocker, with 38 seconds left to give the New York Knicks' a three-point lead that held up Monday night in a 92-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Baker had two nifty low-post moves against Ratliff for baskets in the final 2{ minutes that helped the Knicks to a crucial home win.

    "He played like the Olympian he used to be," Stephon Marbury said of Baker, a four-time All-Star and member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team. "I've been calling him the Olympian in practice pretty much to get him into that flow."

    Tim Thomas returned after a four-game injury absence and scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. Marbury scored 23 and Moochie Norris played his most significant role of the season with 13 points in 29 minutes.

    Damon Stoudamire had 20 points and Zach Randolph 19 for the Blazers, who began the night in a virtual tie with Utah for eighth place in the West.

    Portland had a shot for the win, but Stoudamire missed an off-balance 20-footer at the buzzer. Portland lost for just the third time in 10 games.

    "We played with some urgency tonight, and that's what we need to do," said Baker, who was signed earlier this month after an arbitrator ruled he was a free agent following the termination of his contract by the Boston Celtics.

    The Knicks won without Allan Houston (bruised quadriceps) and Penny Hardaway (strained groin). Thomas had been out with a strained groin.

    The Blazers began a stretch of four straight games against teams in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. A three-game road trip will take them to New York, Boston and Philadelphia before they return home to play New Orleans on Saturday.

    "This one hurts," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "It always helps to get the first one because it gives you momentum to get the second one.",

    The Knicks, who began the night in seventh place in the East, will play five of their final seven games on the road.

    Baker ripped an offensive rebound away from Stoudamire, who claimed he was fouled on the play, and fed Marbury behind the 3-point line where he was fouled. He made all three foul shots for a 90-89 lead with 1:24 left.

    After a miss by Stoudamire, the Knicks ran the shot clock almost completely down before Baker made a move to his right and flipped a short jump hook over Ratliff for a three-point lead with 38 seconds left.

    "I've played against Theo the last eight years, so I know you have to get some loft on the shot," Baker said. "But it's not about the shot, you've got to create space with him, and once I created the space, the shot -- basically I didn't worry about it."

    Ratliff, who had six blocks, answered with a dunk over Baker, leaving a seven-second differential between the game clock and the shot clock.

    The Knicks again ran the clock down and could only manage a force by Tim Thomas, but Portland was out of timeouts and could not stop the clock before Stoudamire's final attempt.

    "I knew he was going to get the ball and take the last shot," Marbury said. "He was going to have to shoot it right over me."

    Portland was ahead for all but 77 seconds of the first half, and Stoudamire had seven of the Blazers' first 11 points in the third quarter to give Portland a 58-48 lead.

    Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens yanked Shandon Anderson and put Norris on Stoudamire, letting Marbury slide over to defend Derek Anderson. Norris ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer, making him 4-for-4 from the field and pulling New York to 66-64.

    "You've got to do things to change sometimes," Norris said. "Shandon was struggling a little bit and wasn't feeling good, it's my job to come off the bench and give guys minutes.

    Game notes


    Dikembe Mutombo, out since March 3 after undergoing minor abdominal surgery, could practice Tuesday. ... Kurt Thomas had just six points and three rebounds in 37 minutes. He came into the game averaging only 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 10 games since signing a three-year contract extension. ... Portland would lose tiebreakers to Denver (lost season series) and Utah (worse conference record) if the Blazers finished tied with either team for eighth place. New York is assured of winning tiebreakers against Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto and would lose the tiebreaker with Cleveland.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    POR
    NY
    Points 91 92
    FGM-FGA 34-68 (.500) 38-81 (.469)
    3PM-3PA 3-11 (.273) 3-9 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 20-23 (.870) 13-16 (.813)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-36 12-40
    Assists 17 18
    Turnovers 13 11
    Steals 7 10
    Blocks 10 3
    Fast Break Points 3 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Portland
    New York
    Damon Stoudamire Stoudamire
    Points: 20
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Tim Thomas Thomas
    Points: 26
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0