Rapid Reaction: POR 105, NYK 100

WHAT IT MEANS: With Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup, Knicks fans had plenty to cheer about early on against Portland.

But by the end of Tuesday's game, there was little to celebrate.

The Knicks trailed the entire game against Portland, much of it by double digits. They nearly rallied from 11 points down with three minutes to play but the comeback fell short.

New York (21-10) has lost three of four and five of eight.

CARMELO RETURN: Anthony decided about 45 minutes before the game that his left knee was strong enough to play for the first time in two games.

Once he hit the floor, it looked like Anthony barely missed a beat.

He had 45 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He hit 14 of his 24 shots.

He was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half and had 24 points at halftime.

Anthony poured in 13 of the Knicks' final 17 points, including a three-pointer with just under a minute to play to bring the Knicks to within three.

But he missed a three with 15 seconds to play that could have tied the game.

AMAR'E BACK: Stoudemire made his debut after sitting out the first two months of the season following knee surgery.

As expected, he started off slowly. Stoudemire missed his first five shots in the first half and had a turnover and zero rebounds in 9:31 in the first half.

The power forward got his first bucket with 2:52 to go in the third on a pick and roll with Anthony. Anthony hit Stoudemire with a bullet pass and Stoudemire converted the layup for his first field goal of the season.

He also had a thunderous dunk later in the third off of a great feed from J.R. Smith. He threw it down over the outstretched arm of Portland's Victor Claver.

Stoudemire finished with six points on 3-for-8 shooting with one rebound, one block and two turnovers in 17 minutes.

He sat for the final 9:56 of the game.

J.R. SWISH: Smith had another strong floor game for New York off the bench. He finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

DONUT FOR KIDD: Jason Kidd played 33 minutes for the Knicks and finished with 0 points. He had three assists and three steals.

The Knicks were crushed on the boards (47-37) and on points in the paint (48-36 ) by Portland.

On a positive note, Ronnie Brewer finished with five points and hit his first 3-pointer since Dec. 9. He was 0 for his last 13.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks host the Spurs at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. They came back from 12 down in the fourth quarter to beat the Spurs on Nov. 15.

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