Knicks Fall Flat After Strong First Quarter, Losing 96-86 to Cavaliers


27. Final. 96. 156. 86

Wednesday night the New York Knicks took on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There was no Knick reunion as J.R. Smith suffered a right knee contusion Monday night, and Iman Shumpert is still recovering from right wrist surgery. Unfortunately the Cavaliers did have Timofey Mozgov however…and he made New York pay with ten points.

Kristaps Porzingis played two days removed from colliding hard with Carmelo Anthony and he did not seemed to be suffering any lingering effects from the injury. The duo of Porzingis and Anthony led New York to an early 11-2 first quarter lead, combining to score 9 of the 11 points.

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Stop me if you heard this before… the opposing point guard caught fire… Mo Williams went on a personal 6-2 mini-run to get Cleveland back into the game 9-15 mid-way through the opening period. Williams scorched Jose Calderon, leaving him in his dust in transition. I know… I sound like a broken record. Head coach Derek Fisher really needs to resolve this problem… Calderon should be removed from the starting lineup.

Luckily for New York Sasha Vujacic kept up with Williams, knocking down three of his first four attempts, scoring seven of his game total nine points in the first quarter. The Knicks forced the Cavaliers to 34.8% shooting in the first quarter, while shooting 61.9% themselves, taking a 32-18 lead after one quarter of play.

Cleveland started to gain momentum early in the second quarter, going on a 9-2 run to cut New York’s lead to 36-29 with 6:40 remaining in the period. The only basket the Knicks scored though was something really intriguing, Kyle O’Quinn brought out the one-legged Dirk Nowitzki fadeaway shot. Would love to more of this!

From this moment on… the Knicks went over four minutes without a field goal. Cleveland took advantage, making their run and was within one possession 35-38 with 4:24 left in the second quarter.

New York responded by going on a 8-3 run to end the first half, holding Cleveland to without a field goal in the last three minutes of play. The run was highlighted by another monster put-back dunk by Porzingis, posterizing Kevin Love after doing the same thing to LaMarcus Aldridge Monday night.

After scorching the basket in the first quarter, New York went ice cold in the second quarter. Cleveland increased their defensive intensity, forcing the Knicks into 28.6% shooting. Although the Knicks hanged onto a 46-38 lead at halftime because the Cavs continued to struggle from the field themselves in the second quarter, shooting below 40% in the first half.

The Cavaliers stormed out of halftime on a 20-13 run, outscoring the Knicks 32-23 in the third quarter to claim a 70-69 lead entering the final period of play. It was former-Knick Mozgov that kick-started the run, who scored six points in the crucial run. Williams also got it going again in the period, scoring ten of his 22 total points in the the third quarter.

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New York really struggled to find offense in the first-half of the third quarter. Outside of Porzingis and Anthony, no Knick could score a basket… The duo combined to score all 13 points in the first six-minutes of play in the third quarter. Cleveland’s defense continued to hold up as New York was held to 33.3% shooting in the third quarter.

The Knicks reclaimed the lead early in the fourth quarter behind back-to-back three-pointers by Langston Galloway and Derrick Williams. The lead was short lived as Cleveland responded with a 9-0 run to take a 81-75 lead mid-way through the final period, highlighted by a LeBron James‘ steal off a lazy Calderon pass and jamming the ball home.

Galloway gave the Knicks a glimmer of hope with a three-pointer but then LeBron put the final nail in the coffin with over two minutes remaining in the game, cutting to the rim for a monster jam to give the Cavaliers a 93-82 lead. After only scoring a dozen points in the first three quarters, LeBron really came in clutch with 11 fourth quarter points.

Cleveland went on to win 96-86 but it was encouraging to see New York be in the game the whole time against a team that most pundits say are the most likely team to win this year’s NBA Championship.

Who knows, maybe the game could have ended differently if Porzingis was not in foul trouble. Which he always seems to be in…but Porzingis is a rookie and he will learn, so I am not worried. Porzingis knew those fouls were “stupid fouls” and said that he “got to be a little smarter in those situations”. Porzingis finished the game with 13 points in 20 minutes of play.

Anthony yet again…had another poor shooting night, going 6/18 from the field for 17 ineffective points. Although, Anthony minimize his ineffectiveness by helping in other areas of the game with 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.

Next: Knicks Takeaways From Week 1

The Knicks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks again Friday night. New York defeated Milwaukee on their season opener but the Bucks were without argue their best player,Giannis Antetokounmpo. So it will be a completely different game.