Against any other team, the New York Knicks might have picked up a victory Thursday night.
But the Knicks more than met their match against the Portland Trail Blazers, who may be playing the best basketball in the NBA.The Knicks shot a very respectible 55 percent from the floor and scored 125 points in Portland Thursday. But the Trail Blazers went one better, shooting 60 percent and ripping New York's defense for 141 points.
"I feel our guys now have a quiet confidence, a feeling they can beat anybody at any time," said Portland Coach Rick Adelman.
"We thought we had a good chance to win this game," said New York Coach Stu Jackson. "But they outplayed us from the first quarter on.
"I don't think we're this bad, but clearly Portland is the best team we've seen so far. They're playing like you'd expect a Western Conference champion to play."
And Portland's Clyde Drexler played like you'd expect an all-star to play. He led all scorers with 31 points as the Blazers took control early and never looked back.
The Blazers pushed their record to 7-0 to remain the only unbeaten team in the NBA. New York, meanwhile, dropped to 5-3 on the season.
The Blazers have been overpowering in their last four games, a stretch that also includes wins over Detroit, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers. Each time they took control early and then coasted. Portland's average margin of victory in those four games was 21 points.
Against the Knicks, the Blazers set the tone early, racing to a 16-4 lead. Portland's running game accounted for the final four baskets in that string, including the last two by Drexler.
"We wanted to get out and set our tempo," Terry Porter said. "I hit a couple of threes and got us going and then when the bench came in they kept it going. This was the first game of the year where we played 48 minutes of basketball."
Portland scored at will from almost everywhere on the court. They wound up with 35 points off their fast break and made made six of seven three-pointers.
Patrick Ewing led the way for New York with 27 points and nine rebounds.
"We just didn't execute," Ewing said. "We have to stay focused, especially against a great team. They are one of the elite teams in the league and we didn't rise to this occasion."
Lakers 108, Rockets 103,
At Houston, Sam Perkins scored 5 of his 29 points in overtime and James Worthy, arrested earlier in the day on charges of soliciting prostitution, added 24 to lift the Lakers. Los Angeles, 2-4, avoided the worst start in club history. Larry Smith led Houston with 24 points.
Nuggets 121, Timberwolves 108
At Denver, Orlando Woolridge pumped in 25 points, leading the Nuggets to their first win of the season. It was the first time this season Denver held an opponent under 50 percent shooting from the floor. Tony Campbell and Tyrone Corbin each scored 24 points for the Timberwolves, who have yet to win on the road this season.
Warriors 103, Bulls 93
At Oakland, Calif., Chris Mullin scored 30 points, including three baskets in the last two minutes of the game, leading Golden State to its fourth straight victory. Michael Jordan was held to 14 points, 15 below his season average.
Spurs 122, Kings 93
At Sacramento, Calif., David Robinson scored 8 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs hand the Kings their sixth straight defeat. Terry Cummings led San Antonio with 22 points and Sean Elliott added 19, as seven Spurs scored in double figures.