Knicks stagger Cavs with 114-95 win
CLEVELAND — When the NBA schedule was released in August, it was a safe bet the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks would be headed in opposite directions after their first meeting Sunday.
Did anyone peg the Cavaliers for looking old, slow, and lost? And that the Knicks would be riding a modest-two game winning streak after Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis feasted on the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs?
Hardaway Jr. scored 34 points, Porzingis added 32 points and 12 rebounds, and the Knicks stunned the Cavaliers 114-95 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Knicks’ previous win over Cleveland was Oct. 30, 2014, in LeBron James’ return debut with the Cavaliers. Ever since, New York had lost 10 straight to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers (3-4) have looked bad while losing three consecutive games and four of the last five. They trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and got as close as six with 8:20 left in the fourth before the Knicks reasserted control.
Tabbed by virtually all prognosticators for a fourth trip to the NBA Finals, Cleveland has dropped games to Orlando, Brooklyn, New Orleans and New York in the last eight days.
“Tonight’s loss and the last couple are unacceptable, and the only way we’re going to be able to get out of it is to put the work in — as players, as coaches,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “And we’re going to do that. So, not concerned.”
New York’s Enes Kanter contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds. For comparison’s sake, Kanter’s counterpart on the Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson, scored one point and didn’t grab any rebounds. Courtney Lee added 15 points and 10 boards for the Knicks.
Hardaway was just two points shy of tying his career high. He shot 11 of 19 with five 3-pointers and tallied eight assists. Porzingis has scored 30 or more points in four of five games for the Knicks (2-3).
“You have to give every team respect, and right now it’s still early, so they’re still trying to find their niche and their groove,” Hardaway said. “But they’re a very good ballclub. You have to give them respect, but right now we’re focusing on ourselves and our winning streak.”
Kevin Love led Cleveland with 22 points and 11 rebounds. James added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Derrick Rose returned from a sprained left ankle and contributed 15 points. He missed the previous four games.
The Cavaliers used their fifth starting lineup in seven games and took their fourth loss in eight days.
On Oct. 21, the Cavaliers’ 17-game winning streak against the Orlando Magic was snapped in a blowout loss at home.
“What month is this for me? What is this? October? I’m not about to go crazy over it right now,” James said. “It’s too long of a season and I’ve been a part of this too many times so, I’m the wrong guy to ask. I’m too positive right now.”
The Knicks led 29-19 after one quarter. In the past five games, the Cavaliers have been outscored by 54 points in first quarters.
Hardaway finished the first half with 24 points, and Porzingis had 17. New York led 62-54 at halftime.
Cleveland hasn’t led at halftime in any of the past five games.
“Until we get our spirits right, it’s going to be like this,” Lue said. “Like, together. Moving the basketball, moving bodies. Defensively, (helping) a guy when he gets beat — the things we work on every day. We’ve got to continue to stay on it, continue to keep working on it until they understand.”
The Knicks finished 13 of 28 from 3-point range, while the Cavaliers were 10 of 33. Cleveland has allowed at least 13 3-pointers in each of the past five games.
“It helped that we made some shots,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “This was by far our best 3-point shooting game, and that helped us.”
NOTES: Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert missed the game with a sore right knee. ... With his second 3-pointer of the game, Cleveland F Kevin Love reached 900 for his career. This is Love’s 10th season in the NBA. ... Cavs F LeBron James needs 41 points to become the seventh player in NBA history with 29,000 points. ... The Knicks have no plans to trade rookie G Frank Ntilikina or C Willy Hernangomez for Suns G Eric Bledsoe, the New York Post reported. The Suns, who are trying to trade Bledsoe, are reportedly interested in those two players from New York.