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New York loses in Stoudemire season debut vs. Portland

NEW YORK -- Amare Stoudemire made his NBA season debut and Carmelo Anthony made a big contribution after a two-game injury absence Tuesday but couldn't lift the New York Knicks over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland's French Olympian Nicolas Batum scored 26 points — draining six three-pointers — to help the Trail Blazers open the New Year and their four-game road trip with a 105-100 victory.

Damian Lillard added 21 points for the Trail Blazers, including a three-pointer after the Knicks had cut a double-digit deficit to three points in the final minute.

Stoudemire, playing his first game since having knee surgery shortly before the start of the season, wasn't a factor.

Stoudemire ruptured a cyst behind his left knee in a preseason game on Oct. 19 and had a procedure two days later to remove unhealthy tissue from the knee.

Despite his absence the Knicks have thrived, and coach Mike Woodson said before Tuesday's game that he would go slow with the six-time All-Star.

“We've just got to gauge his minutes and work him slowly back in,” Woodson said.

Stoudemire came off the bench and played just over 16 minutes, scoring six points on 3-of-8 shooting and grabbing one rebound.

Stoudemire received a standing ovation when he entered the game with 3:31 to play in the first quarter.

He missed his first five shots but his production included two impressive dunks.

“It's been a long time coming,” he said before the contest. “I've been so ready to play, put in so much hard work this off-season, and then to have to sit out for the first half of this season ... I'm so ready to go. I'm ready to provide whatever my team needs to improve.”

Anthony, who missed two games with a hyperextended knee, matched his season high with 45 points.

But he missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with less than 16 seconds to play.

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New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, right, is pressured by Portland Trail Blazers' Jared Jeffries during the second quarter of an NBA game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 1. (AP)

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