Written by William Lee
The Cleveland Cavaliers jumped out to an 18 point lead on the New York Knicks, and it looked like it was déjà vu for the Knickerbockers. It looked like it was going to be another no effort beat down that occurred in the Sunday matinee against the Atlantic Division leading Boston Celtics, where we saw the Knicks down by as many as 45 points, with the final score Celtics 114 Knicks 73. Instead the Knicks were able to fight and claw their way back into the game, at least in the first half…the second half would be a different story.
The Knicks lead early 5-4, and then Cavaliers went on a 14-0 run mid-way through the first quarter, leading to their largest lead in the first half of 18 points. With 4:22 left in the first quarter the Knicks went over the foul limit, the Knicks could not play defense without fouling in the first quarter, finishing the period with 10 personal fouls. Every starter except for Carmelo Anthony was in foul trouble by the end of the quarter with two fouls each. The Cavaliers attempted 16 free throws in the first quarter, converting 12 of them from the charity stripe. Not only did the Cavaliers get to the line at will, they also scored at will, finishing 52.9% from the field in the first quarter. Conversely the Knicks were held to 34.8%, the Knicks settled for way too many outside jumps, attempting ten three point shots just in the opening quarter. Although the Knicks would convert on consecutive threes during a 10-2 to close the gap to 10, with the Cavaliers leading 29-19. The Cavaliers lead 31-19 after the first quarter, behind the efforts of Uncle Drew aka Kyrie Irving, who had 9 points and 3 assist in the quarter.
Amare Stoudemire kept the Knicks in the game in the second quarter, scoring nine points, exchanging baskets with the Cavaliers till the mid-way mark, where the Knicks went on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 40-40. The Knicks in the second quarter played better defense, highlighted by a Raymond Felton block on Kyrie Irving, leading to a breakaway dunk by Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks defense forced the Cavaliers into seven turnovers in the quarter, the extra possessions gave the Knicks life in the game. With 3:38 left in the first half Carmelo Anthony was matched up with Anderson Varejeo defending him, Anthony bailed Varejeo out by taking a three point shot. The ball was tipped out to Anthony, and again it was the same matchup, this time Anthony drove by Varejeo, knotting the game up 40-40. Carmelo Anthony needs attack the rim with more frequency, instead of settling for jump shots, to help force double teams, and create drive and kick opportunities for his teammates. Kyrie Irving whom at the moment was scoreless in the second quarter would proceed to scoring six of the final eight Cavaliers’ points to end the first half, Cleveland led 48-45.
Carmelo Anthony would go on a personal 7-4 run, capped off by a three point shot, to trim the deficit to one point 53-52, with 8:41 remaining in the third quarter. This would end up being the closest the Knicks ever came to overcoming the deficit all night, as the Cavaliers would go on an 11-2 run from this point on, behind the combination of their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. The run was capped off by an Irving three point shot, giving Cleveland a double digit lead again 64-54, with 6:31 left in the third quarter. The Cavaliers would go on another mini run to finish the quarter, to increase their lead to 81-65. Kyrie Irving dominated another quarter, scoring 12 points and collecting 5 assist in the third quarter.
The Knicks went on small spurts in the fourth quarter, but was never able to cut into the deficit. It seemed anytime the Knicks would put a little run together, Kyrie Irving was there to answer the call for the Cavaliers, and put a stop to any Knicks’ comeback. Irving finished the game with 37 points, including four threes, and handing out 11 assist in the blowout 109-94victory over the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony (12/19 FG for 29 points) and Amare Stoudemire (7/10 FG for 15 points) combined to shot 65.5% from the field, scoring 46.8% of the total Knicks’ offensive output Tuesday night. The rest of the team shot 36.2% missing 37/58 from the field. Carmelo Anthony needs more help, needs a better supporting cast. But with the Knicks capped out, there is most likely no help arriving anytime soon. Tyson Chandler’s return alone, will not be able to remedy the Knicks’ ailments.