Written by William Lee
New York spoiled Cleveland big night for Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ retirement ceremony, winning 107-97 Saturday night.
New York devastated Cleveland inside early and often, scoring easily in the paint, finishing with 12 points in the paint in the first quarter. Amare Stoudemire continued his strong performance since inserted into the lineup, scoring 8 of his 17 points in the first quarter. Stoudemire got his second double-double all season with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
While Carmelo Anthony who normally starts off strong, was not his typical self, seen visibly suffering from a cold, keeping as much article of clothing on himself as possible, and draping his head in a towel during pre-game warm ups. Anthony would start off cold, missing his first six attempts from the field. With New York’s star player struggling, their defense kept them in the game, holding Cleveland scoreless for nearly the final three and a half minutes of the first quarter. The Knicks went on an 8-2 run during this stretch, before allowing Jarret Jack to score in the winding seconds in the period. New York led 23-19 after one period of play.
Cleveland would cut the Knicks’ lead to one with a little under seven minutes remaining in the first half. Carmelo Anthony looked like he felt better after getting a little rest to start the second quarter.
Coming back into the game, Anthony got hot, going on a personal 9-0 to give the Knicks a double digit lead, 45-35 with 4:35 remaining in the second quarter. That run would get extended to a 15-2 run, the game looked like it was going to get out of hand for the Cavaliers with New York leading 51-37, but Spencer Hawes got Cleveland back into the game with back to back threes, trimming the Knicks’ lead to the combination of Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith would answer, both contributing to a 7-0 run, to push the lead up to 58-43 with over a minute remaining in the first half. The run ended in a highlight play where New York had a 3-1 fast break advantage that ended with Smith lobbing the ball off the backboard to a trailing Stoudemire, who laid it in. That globetrotter play woke up the Cavaliers, and in particular, Kyrie Irving, who personally went on a 7 -0 run to end the first half after they called a time out, to cut the lead to single digit, 58-50.
With a prolonged halftime for an emotional Zydrunas Ilgasuskas retirement ceremony, both teams came out of the half cold, both going scoreless for the first two minutes of the second half.
Cleveland would get back on track, going on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to one point, 60-59 with 8:19 left in the third quarter. Both teams would exchange baskets the rest of the third quarter, changing leads a couple of times, and tying the game up a couple of times. Cleveland would briefly take the lead as the third quarter winded down, before Carmelo Anthony nailed a three-pointer to give back New York the lead to end the third quarter, 77-76.
Cleveland would take the lead briefly again, as Dion Waiters scored on the first two Cavaliers’ possession, giving Cleveland an 80-77 lead. New York would answer with a 13-1 run, which included four three-pointers, giving New York a double digit lead, 91-81. Cleveland never really threatened again.
New York was hot from downtown, knocking down 14 three-pointers Saturday night. J.R. Smith for a second straight night connected on five three-pointers, finishing the game with 17 points.
The loss for the Cavaliers, gave Cleveland their fourth straight loss, despite a great effort from Kyrie Irving, who was a couple of rebounds and assists away from a triple double. Irving had 30 points 8 rebounds 8 assists for the game.