Jack, Cavs snap Knicks’ 8-game win streak

Mar 23, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters (3) shoots the ball during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

NEW YORK (AP) — Jarrett Jack scored a
season-high 31 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers won 106-100 Sunday
night to end the eight-game winning streak of the New York Knicks, who
wasted a chance to pull within two games of a playoff spot.

Hours after being handed a chance to get
closer to the final spot in the Eastern Conference when Atlanta blew a
fourth-quarter lead in Toronto, the Knicks responded with an inept final
period of their own after they led by 17 points in the first half.

They couldn’t stop Jack and couldn’t get
a basket from Carmelo Anthony, who missed all five shots in the final
period and finished with 32 points.

Jack scored 23 in the second half and finished with 10 assists for the Cavaliers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Dion Waiters scored 22 points and Luol
Deng had 13 in his return from a three-game absence with a sprained left
ankle for the Cavs, who didn’t miss All-Star Kyrie Irving because Jack
torched the Knicks for 13 points in the fourth quarter.

New York was missing ailing Iman
Shumpert, their best perimeter defender who surely would’ve gotten a
chance to defend Jack since nobody else could.

The Knicks, who suddenly were back in
the playoff race after looking out of it after a seven-game skid dropped
them to 21-40 after a loss in Detroit on March 3, will have to bounce
back on the road. They leave for a five-game Western Conference trip
that begins Tuesday against the Lakers.

The Hawks had already lost at Toronto by
the time the Knicks showed up for work Sunday. Coach Mike Woodson said
he was glad but didn’t appear overjoyed, realizing the Knicks still have
plenty to do to get to the 35 to 40 wins he think will be necessary to
earn a playoff spot.

"It’s good that they lose, but again, it’s about what we do at this point," Woodson said before the game.

The Knicks would have had to win out to
get to 40, so that’s moot. Even getting to 35 will be difficult
considering they still have games against Miami and Chicago, plus two
apiece against Brooklyn and Toronto after their trip.

New York made 15 of 21 shots (71
percent) in the first quarter, getting 14 points from Anthony and taking
a 34-27 lead when J.R. Smith made a 28-footer with 0.2 seconds left.
The Knicks pushed the lead to 17 in the second when Pablo Prigioni made a
3-pointer, then stole the ball and threw an alley-oop pass that Smith
slammed down to finish off a fast break and make it 51-34.

But down 61-46 at halftime, Cleveland
scored the first nine of the second half to get within six, and the
Knicks never really got the momentum back.

The Cavs used an 11-4 spurt to tie it
at 90 on Jack’s jumper with 7:29 remaining, then Deng’s 3-pointer gave
them a 93-92 edge with 5:46 to play.

Anthony’s free throws gave the Knicks
their last lead, but Jack knocked down a jumper, Waiters made a
3-pointer and Anderson Varejao had an easy dunk after a pick-and-roll to
make it 100-94 with 2:37 remaining.

New York cut it to two, but Jack answered with another jumper, finishing two points shy of his career high.

Smith finished with 18 points for the Knicks.