Cavs turn win over to Knicks
As is usually the case, defense was not exactly the order of the evening in a game involving the New York Knicks. But unfortunately for the Cavaliers, New York’s defense was not quite as bad as their own.
The result was a 123-107 loss Sunday night in Madison Square Garden, enabling the Knicks to clinch a playoff spot and snap their 11-game losing streak against the Cavs (including the first three of this season).
It marks the first time since 2004 the Knicks have made the playoffs -- snapping their tie with Minnesota for the NBA’s longest postseason drought. The Timberwolves will now have to carry that banner alone.
Meanwhile, the Cavs (15-61) strengthened their hold on the league’s worst record (and shot at the No. 1 overall draft pick), as everyone not named Baron Davis seemed a step slow and a little out of sorts for too many stretches.
That’s not intended to downplay the forever-improving play of Cavs forward J.J. Hickson, or belittle the entire team’s ability to battle back following a 22-point deficit.
It just seemed like every time the Cavs started to come close, they failed to make the pass, basket or defensive stand that mattered most. Nor did it help that the Cavs compiled a whopping 22 turnovers. And yes, the Cavs did it against a Knicks team that pretty much treats defense as if it’s a mere suggestion.
“It’s always hard to win with our team because of so many young guys and so many missing pieces, but it’s really hard when we have (22) turnovers,” said Cavs coach Byron Scott. “In the second half, we had 14 turnovers. That’s way too many against this team, with the way they play. It gives them a chance to get in the open floor and make easy baskets.”
Davis tallied his career-high as a Cavalier, displaying guts and leadership on his way to 22 points and 8-for-14 shooting. That included 5-for-8 on 3-pointers.
Hickson scored a team-high 23 points, and Anthony Parker and Alonzo Gee added 11 apiece.
Interestingly, the Cavs shot 53 percent to the Knicks’ 48, “but when you give them 22 or 23 extra possessions, it’s gonna be pretty hard to win,” Scott said.
It’s also hard to win when Amar’e Stoudemire (28 points), Carmelo Anthony (25) and Chauncey Billups (23) have the kind of game the Knicks were hoping for when they brought each to New York.
The Knicks opened a 61-39 lead midway through the second quarter, but Davis buried three 3-pointers to help cut it to 67-57 at halftime. The Cavs later trimmed the deficit to two points in the third.
“We kept battling back, (but) battling back from 22 down takes a lot out of you,” Davis said. “Execution is a huge part of it and I think the turnovers killed us.”
Like the rest of the NBA, the Cavs are off Monday night, when the NCAA holds its men’s championship game. They return to action Tuesday at home against Charlotte, one of just three games remaining this season at Quicken Loans Arena. Tip-off is 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Ohio.