The Knicks held off the Cavaliers at Madison in a closed game square garden to stop their losing streak.
The New York Knicks (25-23) defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers (29-20) in a close 105-103 victory. They finally won a close game at home, posting a four-game losing streak against a strong Cleveland team in the process. Despite the late game heroics of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, the Knicks were able to put on the clamps and take the win.
New York was without Evan Fournier on the bench for personal reasons, but Immanuel Quickley is back after the Knicks missed the final two games with a sore left knee.
The Cavaliers lost their last game to the Knicks in early December, but won their first matchup against the Bockers in November. Both teams have gone in opposite directions as the season progresses, with the Cavs sitting fairly high in the Eastern Conference standings and the Knicks falling back on his four-game losing streak leading up to tonight.
The first quarter started with a Julius Randle 3-pointer after solid ball action between Jalen Branson, Jericho Sims and Randle. The move helped New York’s offense flow better, and their defense was solid during the transition as well. , finally regained its defensive strength. As the period progressed, both teams appeared to be attacking efficiently, with Donovan Mitchell finding the rhythm and nearly every Knicks starter coming in to score. Barrett and Randle were particularly formidable from the floor, scoring a combined 26 points. But the Knicks defense allowed the Cavs to paint too much, again feeling the absence of Mitchell Robinson. Fortunately, the New York bench provided the much-needed spark. It was a change of pace from recent production, with Quickly and Obihi toppins returning to finish the quarter on top.
The second started with a ridiculous foul from Quentin Grimes, a personal foul on Caris LeVert’s 3-pointer that has since been elevated to a flagrant foul. Almost immediately, however, Quickley responded by drawing his own foul on the other side of the floor, ending the shot for an and-1 chance. The bench was able to hold on to the Knicks as the starter slowly returned to the floor early in the second quarter. Their defense was solid, which was needed after both teams’ scoring first quarters. And the movement of the ball was high from the first quarter, and the team recorded 19 assists in the first half alone. Even with Branson struggling as a facilitator off the floor, Quickley was able to fill the void. They eventually got the Cavaliers back in the game by the half and they were just two down when the first half ended.
Cleveland hit an uncontested three-point shot and a two-point shot to open the third shot. He then scored three one-and-done possessions by New York. This allowed the Cavaliers to regain the lead early in that period. Turnovers were also an issue, as the Knicks committed his 3 in the first few minutes of the quarter. The Knicks needed to get their offensive rhythm back and that meant passing the ball like they did in the first half. Mitchell was starting to heat up too, so New York had to double down on passing and quick decision-making to keep this game in contest. It looked like it was back, playing the defense it needed in the paint and scoring some hard points from Randle and Branson. Grimes also hit a timely three-pointer towards the end of the period to give New York the lead back. Going into the fourth quarter, Randle hit the second-last three-pointer himself to take the lead to five.
Toppin, who sat for most of the game, started the fourth, score immediately Three-pointers and transition layups gave New York another ten lead. Even with Darius Garland slipping on and off the screen so easily, he couldn’t capitalize on his chances. The strength of the Knicks’ defense was maintained early in this period, making it easier for offensive looks. Unfortunately for New York, Mitchell started to heat up again, hitting a long-range triple to bring Cleveland back within two midway through the fourth. With the pressure mounting, both teams battled for rebounds, second chances and tough shots. Each defense was solid, but it was all about who could be stopped.
After Cleveland tied by 100 with about two minutes remaining, Randle hit a huge three-point shot to put New York three points behind. Two clutches from Branson he was free he was throwing and with 40 seconds remaining he was five behind. The final moments of the game were tense as the Knicks took a two-run lead with 15 seconds remaining and Cleveland got possession of the ball after two errant shots from Randle and Barrett. However, Isiah Hartenstein closed out the game with an excellent defense against Mitchell, which he missed after the rebound went into the hands of Evan Mobley. The game and the Knicks’ losing streak is over.
The Knicks’ top performer was Randle, who had 36 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. Barrett had 16 points, 3 rebounds, assists and 2 steals. Brunson had 14 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. Grimes had 10 points, 3 assists, rebounds and blocks. Jericho Sims had two points and four rebounds.
The bench was solid tonight, with Toppin leading the way with 11 points and three rebounds. Quickley had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in addition to steals. Hartenstein had his 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks, while Deuce his McBride had his 3 points, 3 assists and 1 rebound.
New York advances to their next tough game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Thursday night.
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