Final Dime: Cavaliers 124, Knicks 93
LeBron James throws down two of his 22 points in Monday's win.
David Liam Kyle
Earlier on Monday, Cleveland’s starting center underwent surgery on his right thumb and is scheduled to miss the next eight weeks. But instead of hanging their heads, the Wine and Gold came out and completely obliterated the Knicks – 124-93 – at The Q.
Cleveland led by a dozen after one quarter, but they were just getting warmed up.
By halftime, they were up by 26 after hanging 74 points on New York’s porous defense after two quarters. In the third, the Cavaliers got defensive – holding the Knicks to just 11 points in the period. Heading into the fourth ahead by 42, Mike Brown emptied his bench.
“I thought that after getting up big, we did a nice job of staying focused, coming out in the third quarter and trying to close and finish the game the right way,” praised Brown. “Give everybody in that locker room credit for trying to string a game together for 48 minutes.”
LeBron James led everyone with 22 points in just three quarters, going an efficient 9-of-17 from the floor with seven boards, seven assists, two blocks and a pair of steals.
“(We were) moving the ball, getting up and down the floor,” said James. “We’re playing together. We aren’t saying (to ourselves), ‘Let’s go out and score 120.’ It just happens in the flow.”
Antawn Jamison followed up with 17 points and 12 boards and J.J. Hickson – getting the start in place of O’Neal – finished with 17 points, nine boards and a pair of blocked shots. Mo Williams offset a tough shooting night by tying a season-high in assists with 10.
Delonte West came off the bench to notch 15 points – electrifying the crowd (and himself) with a second-quarter flurry that included a massive baseline dunk in Tracy McGrady’s grill and a scintillating alley-oop to LeBron that was negated by a foul call.
Anderson Varejao was just as active off Mike Brown’s bench, going 7-for-9 for 14 points and 10 boards in just over 16 minutes of work.
Cleveland shot almost 60 percent in the first half and finished at 56 percent, nearly lapping New York on the boards – out-rebounding the Knicks, 60-31. Only the Cavaliers’ 16 turnovers and 59 percent free throw shooting kept the blowout from being even worse.
Every Cavalier who dressed saw action and every Cavalier who saw action scored as the Wine and Gold won their fourth straight game and 47th of the year.
The Cavaliers travel to New Jersey where they face the Nets on Wednesday night – part of three games in four nights heading into the weekend.
2. Anderson Varejao finished with 14 points and 10 boards on Monday. He had already doubled-up by halftime with 12 and 10. The Cavaliers record when Anderson doubles-up is 7-1 this year and 27-5 all-time.
3. In all three wins against New York this season, the Cavaliers got off to big first-quarter starts. Including Monday night’s 38-point first, Cleveland is now averaging 40.6 points in the opening stanza vs. the Knicks.
4. Mike Brown didn’t fare well in the first nine games of his career against the Knicks, going just 4-5. Over his last eight, Brown’s Cavaliers have gone 8-0.
5. Once one of the proud franchises in the NBA, the Knicks are set to clinch their ninth straight losing season – easily the longest active losing season streak in the league. (Charlotte should snap their streak at five this year.)
6. Without Shaq in the lineup this year, the Cavaliers score nearly four points more per game (105.4 – 101.7) but they give up nearly seven points more defensively (101.6 – 94.5). Cleveland is now 7-1 without the Diesel; 40-13 with him.
7. For the fourth time in four months, LeBron James was named the Eastern Player of the Month averaging 32.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 10.5 assists as Cleveland went 8-3 during February. On Monday, LeBron also was named the East’s Player of the Week for the sixth time this season and 26th time in his career.
8. Daniel Gibson was a late scratch for personal reasons, deactivated shortly before tip-off. Rookie, Danny Green – fresh off his 36-point, nine-rebound performance in Erie – was activated and played eight minutes of the fourth quarter, finishing with four points.
9. The Cavaliers already led the NBA in margin of victory – topping teams by an average of 6.9 points per contest. Monday’s throttling of New York was Cleveland’s largest spread this season.
10. Despite LeBron’s call for a free agent moratorium, one New York reporter thought he’d give it a shot, quizzing the young King on his thoughts on the Knicks recent efforts to clear cap space.
“I don’t know if you’ve been around, but I stopped answering free agent questions a long time ago,” coolly responded James. “Let’s move on please.”