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Wrap-Up -- After Thursday night’s outstanding comeback victory at the Garden, there was a running theme in the Cavaliers’ postgame locker room.
”When we’re sharing the ball it’s fun to be out there,” said Collin Sexton, after a strong career debut at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
”We’ve had a lot of fun playing the game,” added the game’s top scorer, Kevin Love. “We’re enjoying being out there.”
Basketball is fun again for the Wine & Gold – especially in light of their electric comeback victory in New York – outscoring the Knicks, 21-5, over the final four minutes for the 125-118 win on Thursday night.
With the win, the Cavaliers have now won four of their last six, swept the season series over New York and earned their 10th straight W at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks took a nine-point edge, 113-104, with 3:51 to play. But Collin Sexton converted a three-point play on Cleveland’s next possession – jumpstarting the Cavs’ rally. Sexton scored again on a beautiful outlet pass from Kevin Love, hitting the rookie in stride as he streaked downcourt – dribbling around his back and swooping in for the layup.
Jordan Clarkson converted two free throws after a clear-path violation and drilled a triple – on a great feed from Sexton – to put the Cavaliers ahead to stay, with Love drilling six straight free throws to ice the victory.
Nothing about Thursday’s victory was easy. Cleveland trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter, New York’s starting and backup centers went 12-of-12 from the floor, seven Knicks tallied double-figures and their bench combined for 59 points.
But the Cavaliers, who’ve been very good from long-range since Love’s return, drilled 14 triples on the night and went 29-of-36 from the stripe. They also had four players each top the 20-point plateau.
Love led the way with a game-high 26-point performance – shooting a symmetrical 6-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 11-of-11 from the line, adding a team-high eight rebounds to go with three assists.
Sexton had his third straight strong showing against the Knicks and saved his best for Thursday – notching eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, going 7-for-15 from the floor overall in the win.
Jordan Clarkson led the Cavaliers’ reserves with 22 points – his 53rd game of double-digit scoring off the bench – going 7-for-13 from the floor, including 3-of-8 from deep and 5-of-6 from the stripe.
Cedi Osman completed the quartet – finishing with 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, adding seven boards and a team-high five assists.
The Knicks, coming off a victory in which no starters tallied double-figures or scored in the fourth quarter, got most of their production from reserves again on Thursday – with Allonzo Trier leading New York with 22 points in 32 minutes of work off the bench. Noah Vonleh doubled-up with 16 points and a game-high 10 boards.
Osman records his 11th game of 20+ points this season.
Turning Point -- For a minute, it looked like the game’s turning point might be New York’s 18-6 run to end the third quarter and put the home team up a dozen.
But the fourth quarter was a different story.
Cleveland cut the Knicks’ two-touchdown lead early in the period to just five. But New York bounced back and took a nine-point edge on a Kevin Knox floater. That’s as good as it would get for David Fizdale’s squad on Thursday.
Collin Sexton would proceed to score Cleveland’s next seven points and Cedi Osman’s trifecta with 2:19 to play got the Cavs to within one. Jordan Clarkson gave the Wine & Gold the lead with five straight points of his own and Kevin Love put the game away from the stripe with six straight makes over the final 24 seconds.
By the Numbers – 19.8, .562, .517 … Cedi Osman’s scoring average – plus shooting percentage from the floor and long-range over his last 10 games. Over his past two outings, Osman is averaging 24.0 points, shooting .654 from the floor, including .667 (6-of-9) from long-range.
Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on Collin Sexton’s performance at the Garden …
”He really played under control, not only in his attack, [but] when the shot was there he took it. When he had the driving opportunities, he made the most of it. He really played a composed game. I thought he did a really good job recognizing certain situations where we had mismatches. He didn’t try to do too much, he made the simple play and made the right plays.”
Up Next -- After their strong comeback win on Thursday night in New York, the Wine & Gold return home to tip off the month of March with a weekend back-to-back – welcoming the Pistons on Saturday afternoon followed by a visit from the Orlando Magic on Sunday. The Cavaliers then play five of their next six on the road – traveling to Brooklyn for a meeting with the Nets next Wednesday followed by their final trip to Miami to face the Heat on Friday. The Cavs return for a meeting against Toronto on March 11 followed by a three-game roadie – traveling to Philly, Orlando and Dallas.