On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks (18-5) defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-20) by the score of 103-102. Box Score
Raymond Felton led the Knicks in scoring with 25 points on 9-20 shooting from the field. He added seven assists and five rebounds, only turning it over once.
Tyson Chandler had 23 points on 9-10 shooting from the field with a game high 10 rebounds and two steals.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavs in scoring with a career high 41 points, 17 in the fourth quarter alone, on 15-25 shooting. He also added five assists, five rebounds and had five, three pointers. Anderson Varejao had 9 points and only 8 rebounds. He missed the game tying free throw with one second left in the game.
The Knicks bench outscored the Cavs bench 33-16 led by J.R. Smith with 16 and Steve Novak with 13 points.
Chris Copeland got the start in the place of Carmelo Anthony and scored 11 points of 4-5 shooting, 2-3 from downtown, in 18 minutes of action.
Jason Kidd shot only 3-14, 3-13 from three for 9 points, but had 8 assists and 6 rebounds while committing only one turnover.
The Knicks are now 10-0 at home and 21-1 under Mike Woodson at home.
The Knicks are now 8-1 in their last nine games and 2-1 this season without Carmelo Anthony
Wow, that one got a little too close for comfort tonight for the Knicks. This coming against a team so ashamed by their record, they have to wear masks. But in all seriousness, give the Cavs a ton of credit for battling back and not letting the Knicks coast to a victory tonight. The Knicks played a solid game, kept the Cavs in check for most of the game and were able to escape with a victory tonight. The bad teams normally led a game like tonight slip away and the Knicks, anything but a bad team, did not let that happen tonight.
Lets start with the game played by Tyson Chandler tonight. 23 points, 10 rebounds, a bunch of clutch alley oop baskets, and the tap outs as well were all needed for the Knicks. Tyson got into foul trouble early in this game and sat out the entire second quarter but was a force in the second half. Chandler and Felton have a great connection with each other and the pick and roll they run together is a beautiful thing to watch. The Knicks, with their great shooting from three, really force teams to make a choice on the pick and roll, and Chandler makes them pay when they dont roll with him to the basket. Chandler had a quiet game against the Nets the other night, but, once again has bounced back to play another big game and keep Anderson Varejao in check.
I know that after last year’s point guard merry-go-round watching, performances like we had tonight from Kidd and Felton is a lot of fun to see. Kidd did not shoot the ball well as he was 3-14, missing 10 three pointers, but affected the game in other ways. Six rebounds, which was second on the team, and eight assists, to lead the team, shows some of the ways he can fill up the box score without scoring. Then you see the stuff he does on the court, that don’t show up in the box score, that makes his play this season even more impressive. The facilitation of the offense, the way he encourages ball movement and finds himself open for threes are more and more impressive with each passing game. Raymond Felton has been a slump recently shooting the ball, but was better tonight, shooting 9-20 to lead the team in scoring. He has also taken care of the ball, only committing one turnover, which gives the Knicks more chances to score the basketball. This back court has to be considered one of the best in the NBA right now, and if you said that would be the case before the season, people would not have believed you.
The bench for the Knicks was short tonight with both Melo and Wallace out but they stepped up in a big way. J.R. Smith had 16 points but did struggle with his shot, missing a couple of easy lay ups, and a free throw late which almost cost the Knicks. But you also have to point out that he had three rebounds, four assists and two steals to help out in other ways. Novak was key in the Knicks come back from an early 28-20 deficit in this game with four three pointers, including one right before the half. He was quiet in the second half, and also missed a free throw that almost cost the Knicks. Luckily for Smith and Novak, those missed free throw are only footnotes in the Knicks win.
I also want to single out Chris Copeland who made his first start in the NBA in his career and looked good in only 18 minutes of action. He made almost all his shots tonight and although his defense is suspect at best, he has earned some more playing time in my opinion. He certainly has the talent to be a guy to come off the bench to spell Chandler or Wallace or step in if someone else on the front line is out. I know that it’s hard to overreact on one game and Woodson probably has him back on the end of the bench when Wallace and Melo are back. But I think that if one of the front line guys on the team need a game off or are out long term, Copeland can contribute for this team.
Kyrie Irving is really good. I’m sure young Cavs all around Cleveland are ordering black masks as we speak. He played in the fourth quarter like a man possessed, almost willing the Cavs to at least overtime, if not a win. 41 points, a career high, and 17 in the fourth quarter, Cavs fans have got to be really excited about their future with him running the point. I think that the Cavs will trade Varejao and could demand a lot for him as the deadline gets closer. He could be a great addition to a playoff contender. Byron Scott had a 5-19 team, on the road, in the second game of a back to back, play about as hard as you can. That is something I thought was impressive and if given time, Scott can turn the Cavs one day into winners again.
The Knicks escaped a game tonight that during the past few seasons, they would have let slip away. They should be pleased with how they played and considering that they were without both Melo and Wallace, did just enough to get a win. Kidd, Felton and Chandler were solid and kudos to Copeland for his strong play as the starting power forward. The Knicks are now going to have another blast from the past next game as Jeremy Lin comes back to the Garden and I don’t think Anthony will be missing that game.
Coming up next, the Knicks are back on the reunion tour at the Garden as they welcome in former Knick Jeremy Lin, James Harden and the Houston Rockets. The game will begin at 7:30 pm on Monday and will be shown on MSG.