On Friday night Night, at the historic Quicken Loans Arena, the World’s Most Quicken Arena, the Knicks (52-27) pasted the Cleveland Cavaliers (24-55) 101-91. Box Score
Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith each led the Knicks with 31 points, though Anthony added 14 rebounds, while Smith was an extraordinary 13-of-16 from the field. For Carmelo, it broke a streak of 6 straight games of scoring 35+.
Iman Shumpert had an all-around effective game despite some struggles from the field, with eight points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Chris Copeland was the only other Knick to score in double figures, chipping in 12 points
Making his Knicks debut, Solomon Jones played 12 minutes but grabbed just one rebound.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 31 points, but it was on just 11-of-27 shooting.
After Indiana’s loss to Brooklyn, the Knicks’ magic number to clinch the second seed in the East is down to just 1, which some say is the loneliest number, but in this instance is actually pretty sweet.
Let me open by acknowledging I’m a bit exhausted tonight, so bear with me.
I actually quite enjoyed this game, for the reason that the Cavs, to their credit, played hard and though the Knicks consistently led, Cleveland did make it difficult for them to pull away. As a result, watching Melo and J.R. grind this one out in the second half was satisfying, with the Knicks essentially just wearing down the outgunned Cavs as the game went along.
For his part, J.R. was really sensational, continuing his strong play to finish the year. To this observer, if something special happens here with this team, we’re going to recall the sudden shift in the play of Smith as the thing that basically changed everything. We spent so much time talking about Smith’s career year before there even was one, to the point that we’re almost overlooking just how dramatically better he’s played of late. There was a time when it was my own personal thought that Smith just wasn’t good enough to be as important as the Knicks needed him to be, but he’s now one of the biggest reasons New York enters the postseason with a sense of limitless possibilities.
Of course, that’s not meant to discount Carmelo, who played another strong game, particularly on the offensive end. Now stating out front that Melo right now continues to look like a god amongst men, I would like to gently poke him, though not with a stick or anything. If we’re being fair, that wasn’t the strongest defensive effort we’ve seen Anthony put forth, albeit that’s still something I’m basically willing to overlook in road games in Cleveland when he’s carrying the type of nightly offensive load he’s generally responsible for. So yeah, it was fine, but still kind of bad.
I was pleased with Chris Copeland’s 12 points, as anyone who read SB Nationa’s epic profile of Cope would have to find it pretty hard not to root for the guy until just about the end of time. Copeland’s story was so inspiring, I gave good thought to COMPLETELY changing my life, before settling on a snack and an episode of Three’s Company.
Oh right, and the new fella, Solomon Jones got some burn and was, you know, human. He looked tall, wore a uniform and even ran and jumped. There’s no reason to spend too much time assessing his performance, other than to say it would be nice to see Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin back in uniform real soon.
So that was that. The Knicks won, the world was a righteous place and everyone was filled with joy and good cheer. Let’s meet back here for Sunday’s tilt with the Pacers with the Knicks looking to close out the second seed once and for all. Should be a fun one.