December 14, 2019

Deep Knicks Streak Past Cavs

Poor execution held Knicks back in 1st half, but able to eke out a win over the Cavs in closing minutes

The New York Knicks started the second half of their season against the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-19) with a roster that had players that didn’t play the first time they faced each other. The game played in Cleveland and won by the home team (91-81) had everyone talking about guard Kyrie Irving the way all have been talking about Jeremy Lin. Irving had a less than impressive night finishing with only 7 points and 7 assists. But with New York turning the ball over 23 times, leading to 24 Cavaliers points, Cleveland went on to the 10 point victory for their 7th win of the year. Fast forward to last night when New York played host with head coach Mike D’ Antoni having a true point guard in Lin and veteran back-ups in Baron Davis and J.R. Smith. They also had at their disposal Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson who missed time with injuries. Finding the right combination with a full roster was the dilemma facing D’ Antoni.

It did not matter what combination of players D’ Antoni put on the floor in the first half as the Knicks came out as if they all had all participated in every event that took place during NBA All-Star weekend. New York would never lead in the first 24 minutes of the game as Cleveland, coming off their 3 point loss to Boston the night before, jumped all over the Knicks. The Cavs shot 54% taking a 12 point halftime lead. Antwan Jamison led all scorers with 15 points (2 of 3 from 3-point land) while both Tyson Chandler and Jeremy Lin scored 10 points for New York. As poorly as they played, the Knicks were only down by 7 (36-29) with a little less than 10 minutes to go in the second quarter. Over the next 9 minutes, Cleveland outscored the Knicks 25-15 to take a 17 point lead (61-44). Only a 5 point spurt by New York reduced the lead to 61-49.

Said D ‘Antoni of the first half malaise, “it was a matter of rust,” he started. “We just talked about the spirit and the team effort we needed to have in the second half.”

The defense that was non-existent in the first-half, came to life in the 3rd quarter.

New York forced 8 Cleveland turnovers and outscored them 33-19 by the end of the period. They took their first lead of the game with 2:52 left after a Steve Novak 3-pointer. Novak, who established himself in the first half of the season with his deadly 3-point shooting, picked up right where he left off. Novak would hit 2 more 3-pointers before the end of the period as New York took a 2 point lead (82-80) heading into the final 12 minutes.

“He was ridiculous,” said D’ Antoni.

Novak’s hot shooting continued to begin the 4th as he hit the next 2, 3-pointers that extended the Knicks lead to 8 points (90-82). Just when you thought the Cavaliers were about to call it a night, Irving connects on a 3 pointer of his own to cut the lead to 8 (106-98) with less than 3 minutes to go. It was the Lin show the rest of the way. He began with 2 free throws, scored on a lay-up and assisted on 2 other baskets. The last assist, an ally-oop slam with Iman Shumpert on the receiving end.

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