Wrap-Up — October has not been kind to the Cavaliers, who have now wrapped up the first month of the season with three straight losses – including another ugly defensive effort on Sunday, falling to the Knicks, 114-95, at The Q.
Eight days after the Magic came to Cleveland to snap a 17-game losing streak to the Wine & Gold, the Knicks arrived to erase a 10-game skein. In the process, it sent the Cavaliers to their fourth loss in five games after winning their first two games of the campaign.
Sunday’s storyline was a familiar one for the slumping Cavs: New York got off to an early double-digit lead before Cleveland rallied to close the deficit in the second half and ran out of fuel in the fourth.
The Cavaliers last lead of the night on Sunday was at the 7:04 mark of the first quarter. The Knicks closed the period on a 19-6 run and never looked back.
Kevin Love led the way for the second straight night – finishing with 22 points on 5-for-15 shooting to go with a team-high 11 boards.
LeBron James – who made his Cavaliers debut exactly 14 years ago on Sunday – also doubled-up with 16 points, 10 boards and seven assists.
Derrick Rose returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous four – added 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting to go with three boards and three helpers against his old squad.
J.R. Smith notched double-figures for just the second time this season, chipping in with 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting. Kyle Korver rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 13 points – going 3-of-5 from long-distance off the bench.
The Knicks got huge contributions from their starting forwards – Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis – who combined for 66 points in the win.
KLove and LBJ record double-doubles despite loss to Knicks.
Hardaway Jr. went 5-for-10 from long-range and 11-for-19 overall, adding eight assists and pair of steals to his 34-point performance. Porzingis – who’s now topped the 30-point plateau in four of New York’s first five games – finished with 32 points and 12 boards. Enes Kanter (18 points, 12 boards) and Courtney Lee (15, 10) also notched double-doubles for the Knicks.
The Knicks topped the Cavaliers on the fastbreak, 13-4 and on second-chance opportunities, 19-9, outrebounding Ty Lue’s squad by 10 – 51-41 – and holding them to 38 percent shooting.
Turning Point — Even the game’s turning point has been consistent over the Cavaliers’ recent funk.
Cleveland started the fourth quarter trailing by 17 – 92-75. And as they did in the previous two games, used a run to get right back in the game – starting the final period on a 13-2 to run to cut New York’s lead to just six with 8:20 to play.
But the Knicks answered, with Courtney Lee and Enes Kanter leading a 9-0 run, giving them a 15-point edge and essentially putting the game on ice.
By the Numbers – .500 … Kyle Korver’s three-point shooting percentage over the last five games – going 13-for-26 from beyond the arc over that stretch.
Quotable – LeBron James, on the Cavaliers’ early-season defensive woes …
”Our transition defense is pretty bad. I mean, I think everything defensively (is bad). We defensive rebound when teams miss – we do a good job of that – but other than that, we’re pretty bad defensively.”
Up Next — The Cavaliers stay at home, welcoming the Pacers to town on Wednesday for the first time since last year’s First Round postseason series. Cleveland would like to have its game sharpened for that matchup and the following one – a marquee Eastern Conference contest with the Wizards on Friday night in Washington. The Wine & Gold return to Cleveland for a pair afterwards – welcoming the Hawks to The Q on Sunday afternoon before the Bucks roll in for the first time this season next Tuesday.
Calls of the Game