Final Dime: Cavaliers 115, Knicks 109
Antawn Jamison led the Wine and Gold with 28 points in Friday's win over New York.
David Liam Kyle
1. New York might need to load up with one more superstar.
The Knicks inked Amar’e Stoudemire in the offseason, but couldn’t beat the Cavaliers back in December. This week, New York made the much-publicized deal for Carmelo Anthony. But on Friday night, the Wine and Gold showed that they still have New York’s number.
Just one day after making a pair of Deadline deals, the Cavaliers played one of their most complete games of the season – taking a third-quarter lead and not looking back to take the clutch 115-109 victory before a sold-out crowd at The Q.
Led by J.J. Hickson’s early energy, the Cavaliers jumped on the Knicks early. But New York bounced back to take a nine-point lead midway through the second quarter. The Wine and Gold weren’t about to go away, however, using a 12-4 run – capped by Ramon Sessions’ trey at the first-half buzzer to tie the game at 53-apiece before intermission.
Both squads battled through the third, but Christian Eyenga’s 21-footer with 5:17 to play in the quarter gave the Cavaliers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
That’s not to say there weren’t some nervous moments down the stretch. Cleveland led by eight, 103-95, with 3:19 remaining. But Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups led a furious Knicks’ run to cut Cleveland’s advantage to two, 103-101, with 1:17 to play.
But two possessions later, Daniel Gibson stepped into a three-pointer with 30.6 remaining to give Cleveland all the breathing space they’d need. Ramon Sessions drained five of his last six free throws to ice the Cavaliers third win in their last five contests after snapping a 26-game skein on February 11.
“I thought from the start of the game we were a lot more aggressive and that is a great win for us,” praised Coach Byron Scott. “I thought our guys are really starting to buy into what we are talking about defensively. We have got much better at that end of the floor and we just need to keep trying to improve.”
The Cavaliers got several strong performances on Friday night – from J.J. Hickson to Alonzo Gee.
Antawn Jamison led the Wine and Gold with 28 points and 13 boards – going 10-for-25 from the floor and notching 16 of his 28 after intermission.
J.J. bounced back from a rough outing against Houston to star on Friday night, doubling up with 24 points, 15 boards and a career-high five blocked shots. Hickson went 9-for-17 from the field and 6-of-10 from the stripe, battling foul trouble and an active Stoudemire – who had 30 points, 11 boards and five blocks of his own.
“I don’t know what they shot from the field, but I know it’s not what they usually shoot,” said Hickson. “Once we start talking on defense, use our athleticism and get to running up and down the floor, it’s hard for us to lose.”
Ramon Sessions added 22 points – shooting 6-for-12 from the floor but, more importantly, 6-of-8 from the line in the final quarter. Sessions pitched in with eight boards, four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
Anthony Parker was his usual effective self, tallying 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Alonzo Gee came off the bench to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points, going 3-of-4 from the floor to with six boards.
Coming off a game in which Houston dominated Cleveland on the boards, the Cavaliers turned the tables – besting New York, 62-42, on the glass and doubling them up, 26-13, in second chance points.
The Cavaliers’ February homestand rolls on this Sunday when they welcome Doug Collins’ hot Sixers squad to The Q.
2. Without the departed Mo Williams, Jamario Moon and Leon Powe – and the newest Cavaliers not expected until Saturday – the Cavaliers went with a nine-man rotation that included Alonzo Gee, who saw his first action in over three weeks.
3. Cleveland has now won ten in a row over the Knicks, including eight straight at The Q. The last time New York beat Cavs in Cleveland was November 29, 2006.
4. The red-hot Ramon Sessions has been hugely productive in February – averaging 19.9 points and 8.7 assists per contest this month. Sessions is even 3-for-5 from beyond the arc this month – impressive for a guy who attempted just 56 treys before arriving in Cleveland.
5. Over his last four outings, Anthony Parker is averaging 15.8 ppg -- shooting .561 from the floor and .533 from beyond the arc.
6. Before joining the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony had been one of the most efficient Cavalier-killers in recent memory. Not including Friday night’s loss, the former Syracuse star was 10-4 all-time against Cleveland, including 6-2 all-time at The Q.
7. After missing the last two games to deal with some personal issues, Daniel Gibson returned to Bryron Scott’s rotation – finishing with eight points –including the clutch fourth quarter trey – in 23 minutes off the bench.
8. The Cavaliers got big support from some members of the Cleveland Browns, including Joe Haden, Josh Cribbs, T.J. Ward, Mike Adams and Joe Thomas. Seated courtside, fellow rookies Haden and Ward were especially into the action – with both joining in to wave Carmelo Anthony off the floor after picking up his sixth personal foul.
9. With the addition of two more rookies – 25-year-old Semih Erden and 24-year-old Luke Harangody – the Cavaliers average age is now just 26.06 years of age
10. Baron Davis must have made Cavalier fans following him on Twitter very happy on Friday night. Midway through the third quarter, the newest Cavalier tweeted: “loving the energy I’m seeing …#cavs.”