PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Allan Houston was kept under control Monday by Portland, which used its their superior depth to pull away for a 99-91 victory over the New York Knicks.
Fighting for a playoff berth in the muddled Eastern Conference, the Knicks began a crucial six-game road trip with wins over Phoenix and the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Sunday, Houston lit up the Lakers for a league season-high 53 points. He added 27 in this one, but that was not enough to overcome the talented Trail Blazers.
"You're in a good position to start this road trip with three wins and then you just let it slip," said Houston, who made 8-of-18 shots. "It was a strange game. A weird game, a lot of bobbled plays. It was one of those games where you really had to stay focused and poised, and we didn't have our poise at the end of the game."
Portland built an 11-point second-quarter lead, surrendered it, then reclaimed it for good in the third quarter, taking a 76-70 advantage into the final period.
The Blazers played much of the fourth quarter with a lineup that included starting guard Derek Anderson and four reserves. One was 7-3 center Arvydas Sabonis, who had two baskets and a pair of pretty behind-the-back passes as Portland pulled away.
"Our bench really stepped up and helped us out," said Portland Coach Maurice Cheeks. "I thought this game could have gone either way. It was nip and tuck. We'd get a little lead, and then they'd come back with their three-point shooting, but I thought our bench at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth helped us separate from them."
Rasheed Wallace scored 23 points for the Blazers, who shot 51 percent (40-of-78) from the field as they swept the two-game season series with the Knicks for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign.
Kurt Thomas had 19 points and 12 rebounds for New York, which shot just 40 percent (36-of-90).