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David Liam Kyle
The Knicks can leave Cleveland taking comfort in one thing: They only have one more game remaining on the North Coast this season.
New York hadn’t topped the Cavaliers in Cleveland since Kyrie Irving was in grade school. And Anderson Varejao made sure that trend continued on Wednesday night at The Q – leading the way in the Wine and Gold’s convincing 91-81 win over Mike D’Antoni’s struggling squad.
Varejao not only stuffed the stat sheet, he set the tone for the Cavaliers and provided a stark contrast to a flat Knicks club.
The Wild Thing doubled-up with 10 points and a season-high 16 boards – including eight off the offensive glass – adding four assists, a game-high four steals and both of the Cavaliers’ blocked shots. He did his usual grunt work below the rim, but also turned in some aerial acrobatics – throwing down a massive dunk with 3:05 to play that sent The Q into a frenzy and the Knicks, essentially, to the showers.
“That was our fourth game in six nights, so it’s great to take care of home court,” said Varejao. “We had lost four games straight and we knew that we had to stop that. We knew we had to play harder tonight and we did that and won the game.”
Antawn Jamison led the Wine and Gold with 15 points, canning his first three-pointers of the evening and adding five boards. Omri Casspi and Anthony Parker added 13 points apiece to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures.
The Cavaliers fell behind by nine in the second quarter – 40-31 – but they regained the lead with a 14-1 run heading into halftime. Cleveland took a five-point edge after a seesaw third quarter and blew past a listless Knicks squad in the fourth – taking a double-digit lead midway through the period and not looking back.
As it had the previous night in Miami, the Cavs bench came up big, pitching in with 33 points and 20 boards.
Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 19 points and 14 boards, but he didn’t get much help. Aside from Stoudemire, no Knicks starter notched more than two points in the final period and New York, as a team, netted just 36 total points after intermission.
“Tonight, I thought we reaped the benefits of getting back to the basics and playing good, solid, hard-nosed defense against a good offensive basketball team,” praised Coach Byron Scott.
The Cavaliers welcome the Knicks’ neighbors from across the Hudson when the Nets make their second local appearance of the season on Friday night.