Cavs Can't Rally Past Knicks

December 15, 2012
Anderson Varejao

Wrap-Up – With the Cavaliers trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving – playing in a protective mask – simply exploded, scoring 17 of his career-high 41 points in the final period. The Cavs rally came up short with one second to play, however, as Anderson Varejao missed the second of two free throws to give New York the 103-102 win on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Irving, who didn’t travel with the team to New York last night after suffering a facial injury on Friday, was 15-for-25 from the floor, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. The reigning Rookie of the Year netted 27 of his 41 points after intermission – adding five helpers and five boards. C.J. Miles had another solid game with 17 points and eight boards and Anderson Varejao – despite the heartbreaking conclusion – still finished with nine points, eight boards and five assists.

Turning Point – As it played out, the turning point of the game might have been the Knicks substituting in-between Anderson Varejao’s final two free throws, possibly shaking his rhythm. But a big moment of the fourth quarter came after Kyrie Irving hit two free throws with 3:59 remaining to get the Wine and Gold to three – 90-87. Jason Kidd hit a three-pointer followed by a Raymond Felton basket that put the Knicks back up eight. But Irving’s onslaught in the closing moments got the Cavs well within striking distance down the stretch.

Game BallKyrie Irving – Playing in a black mask that he was fitted for Saturday morning at Cleveland Clinic – and playing in the New York metro area that he’s very familiar with – Irving was simply amazing on Saturday. In the four games since he’s returned from a broken finger, the former Blue Devil is averaging 26.0 ppg, and that’s including a nine-point game on Wednesday night in Indiana.

By the Numbers75 … Combined points Irving has scored in New York this year. In the two games – on November 13 in Brooklyn and on Saturday at the Garden – the sophomore sensation, who grew up across the Hudson River, has gone 24-for-44 from the floor, 7-for-14 from long-distance and 20-of-21 from the line with 13 combined assists

QuotableAnderson Varejao, on his final free throw attempt …

“I can’t be mad. It felt good; it’ looked good to me. It looked like it was going to be nothing but net, and it was all over the rim. Unfortunately there was only one second left in the game and … we lost.”

Up Next – After a couple days off, the Cavaliers do another four-games-in-five-nights stretch beginning with a Tuesday night matchup against the Raptors at The Q followed by a trip to Boston for a Wednesday night meeting with the Celtics. The Pacers come to Cleveland on Friday night and the Wine and Gold head to Milwaukee the following evening.