Cavs Handle Knicks at The Q
It’s not to say that they haven’t beaten the Wine and Gold in Cleveland. They just haven’t done so since Kyrie Irving was in grade school.
As they have in the previous nine meetings on the North Coast, the Cavaliers blindsided their Big Apple counterparts – essentially going wire-to-wire with the aforementioned Irving leading the way to the 98-90 win on Friday night at The Q.
Irving netted 13 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, setting the tone for a re-energized Cavaliers club. In just his second game back after missing nine of the previous ten with a sprained shoulder, the precocious point guard went 6-for-15 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the stripe, adding three boards and three helpers in limited minutes.
“We definitely wanted to catch (the Knicks) by surprise,” said Irving. “We came out really aggressive on both ends of the floor and came out with a lot of energy. We looked like a really solid team out there.”
As they usually do against the Knicks, the Cavaliers came out swinging.
New York took their biggest lead of the game at 17-14 late in the first quarter. But Anthony Parker canned a three-point to tie the game – and it was all Wine and Gold from that point forward. The Cavaliers extended their lead to 19 in the fourth before quashing a Knicks’ rally in the final minutes of regulation.
Irving got plenty of help on Friday night.
Manny Harris had his best performance of the season -- finishing with 19 points and a career-high 12 boards. The former Wolverine was 6-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-5 from long-distance, including a half-court heave with the shot clock winding down early on an early fourth-quarter possession.
“The Knicks are a good team and we came out aggressive and put in the effort and energy we needed, mainly on the defensive end,” said Harris, who added a pair of assists and a blocked shot in 41 minutes of action. “The key thing for me and everyone was just trying to get the win.”
Another undrafted sophomore, Samardo Samuels, once again flummoxed the Knicks – coming off the bench to net 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
No Cavalier had fewer than three rebounds as the Wine and Gold dominated Mike Woodson’s squad on the boards – out-rebounding New York, 52-32. Cleveland outscored the Knicks, 42-30, in the paint.
Another of Cleveland’s young guns – Tristan Thompson – rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points and six boards.
Neither of the starting lineup’s veterans – Anthony Parker or Antawn Jamison – cracked double-digits, but both did great defensive work against the red-hot Carmelo Anthony, who finished with just 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting.
The Cavaliers hit the road – and the homestretch – this weekend, traveling to San Antonio for a Sunday night meeting with the Spurs before a meeting with Memphis on Monday night.
“I was trying really hard (to come back), working out, trying to shoot the ball, trying to do a lot of stuff, and I wasn’t able to,” said Varejao. “It was really sore, I was in a lot of pain. It was frustrating, but it is what it is.”