Cavs Drop Thriller at The Q
Wrap-Up – It’s rare for a team to rally when one of its potential Hall of Famers leaves the game with an injury. But that was the case on Monday night, as the Knicks completely turned the tide on the shorthanded Cavaliers – erasing their 22-point first-half lead and outscoring the Wine and Gold, 72-45, after Carmelo Anthony had to leave the game with a right knee injury – holding on to hand Cleveland the 102-97 loss at The Q.
The Cavaliers got Kyrie Irving back after missing three games with a sore knee. But they were without the services of rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, both suffering from a stomach illness. Irving managed 22 points on 9-for-20 shooting, but his final attempt – a potentially game-tying three-pointer with 0.9 to play – was blocked by New York’s Tyson Chandler.
Marreese Speights scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, canning his first 10 shots from the floor as Cleveland padded its early edge. Tristan Thompson chipped in with 14 points, eight boards and a huge blocked shot to prevent a Raymond Felton layup with 12.9 to play.
C.J. Miles came off the bench to notch 11 points and Alonzo Gee added 10 before fouling out. Luke Walton set a career-high in assists – dishing 12 helpers, nine of those before halftime.
The Cavs’ bench –which has been their strong suit of late – was outscored, 70-21, on Monday. Not a single Knick starter finished in double-figures.
Turning Point – The turning point can literally be delineated by Anthony’s second-quarter exit. The Cavaliers were shooting over 80 percent from the floor at the time, but inexplicably cooled off from that point forward. Cleveland shot 68 percent in the first half, but just 22 percent in the third quarter as the Knicks made their move. The Cavs warmed up in the fourth, but by then, so did New York – canning seven of the 11 three-pointers they attempted in the period.
Game Ball – Mareese Speights – Although he cooled off considerably in the second half, Speights powered the Cavaliers to their big lead. Getting his first start as a Cavalier, Speights finished 10-of-14 from the floor and along with Tristan Thompson, led Cleveland with eight boards.
By the Numbers – 1.000 … Mo Speights’ shooting percentage in the first half of Monday’s contest – going 10-for-10 before intermission. The last player to hit his first 10 or more attempts in a half without a miss was Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who did so in March, 2009.
Quotable – Kyrie Irving, on the Cavaliers easing up once they’d built a big lead …
”Yes, it’s human nature, but that goes back to a learning experience for our team. A couple guys were getting tired and you could see it out there. Going into the fourth quarter, our lack of intensity kind of cost us.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers close out the week at home – welcoming a pair of Western Conference foes to The Q. The Jazz roll in on Wednesday night and the Grizzlies come to town on Friday. On Sunday night, the Wine and Gold head north of the border to meet the Raptors.