Just when it looked like the last-place New York Knicks were starting to get it together, they took a big step back their last time out.
The Knicks try to quickly put an embarrassing loss behind them when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
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New York (5-14) followed a nine-game losing streak with its first set of back-to-back wins, 113-83 at Brooklyn on Thursday and 121-83 over Orlando on Friday. The Knicks, though, were handed the third-worst home loss in franchise history two days later, falling 114-73 to Boston.
“I wish I could explain it. I didn’t see this coming,” said coach Mike Woodson, whose team posted season lows in points and field-goal percentage (34.2). “I thought we had turned the corner somewhat. I can’t have our guys stepping on the floor doing what they did.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 but was the only starter to reach double figures. Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton both went scoreless on a combined 0 of 12 from the field.
“It’s just one of those games where it happens,” Felton said. “You hate that it happens, you hate to get beat like that inside your building. It was nasty game, it’s a bad taste in our mouth right now.”
Amar’e Stoudemire had a season-high 17 points off the bench, but New York was outscored 42-22 in the paint and 22-6 in transition. The Knicks were also outrebounded 46-26.
“We got to turn this thing around against Cleveland,” Stoudemire said. “We can’t dwell on the past, we have to move forward and understand that we’re a much better team than what we showed (Sunday).”
The Cavaliers (7-13), who have dropped three straight and five of six to the Knicks, are expecting to get their best shot Tuesday.
“This is a team that won 54 games last year. I think that’s what people forget,” backup guard Jarrett Jack said. “They’re dangerous, especially with the added motivation from the kind of loss they had (Sunday). They’re going to come in like the prideful team that they are and try to represent themselves as a top-tier bunch in the East.”
Cleveland is enjoying its best stretch of the season, winning three of four while allowing 92.8 points per game – 6.8 less than its season mark. Andrew Bynum has been key over the last four, averaging 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
“I feel like we’re hitting a bit of a stride,” Jack said. “Hopefully our best basketball is further down the road, but I think we’re playing pretty good right now.”
Each of the Cavaliers’ last three wins have come at home, where they are 6-3 compared to 1-10 on the road. After falling 108-89 at Atlanta on Friday, Cleveland beat the Clippers 88-82 on its own court the following night.
Kyrie Irving was held scoreless for the first time in his career against the Hawks before scoring 20 against Los Angeles. Tristan Thompson added 20 and 13 boards.
“I don’t care if he goes 0 for 30,” coach Mike Brown said of Irving, who leads the team with 19.7 points per game. “I want him to keep being aggressive. If he misses five in a row and he feels like he can a great look his next time, take it. We need him to score and that’s what he can do. He can score and he can play make for his teammates. Have a short memory.”
Irving is averaging 27.4 points in his last five matchups against New York.