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Wrap-Up – There’s something about Madison Square Garden that brings out the best in Kyrie Irving. He was great all night, but saved a little something extra-special for the closing seconds – blowing past Iman Shumpert and floating the game-clinching layup just over the outstretched fingertips of Amar’e Stoudemire and high off the glass to give the Cavaliers the 90-87 win – their fifth straight.
The Knicks led, 29-25, after one quarter, but in the second, the reigning All-Star Game MVP took over – scoring 17 of his season-high 37 points. In the period, Irving went 5-of-7 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long-distance. Overall, he finished 12-of-18 from the floor, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 10-of-11 from the stripe.
With 10 seconds remaining and the Cavs clinging to a one-point edge, Cleveland came out of a timeout with Irving working between the circles. Irving drove left around Shumpert and scored with the one-handed offering. On the Knicks final possession, Carmelo Anthony’s game-tying attempt drew iron and the ball was tapped out to Jose Calderon, whose three-point attempt was waved off as time expired.
LeBron James didn’t have his best shooting night – going 7-for-17 – but he did double-up, scoring seven of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to go with a game-high 12 assists. Kevin Love also notched a double-double in Thursday’s win – notching 11 points and 11 assists.
The Knicks outscored the Cavs in the paint, on second-chance points and grabbed 14 more boards. But New York also committed 22 turnovers and saw its starting backcourt score a total of three points.
Turning Point – There were a pair of turning points for Cleveland on Thursday night.
With less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Knicks led, 51-41. But Kyrie keyed a 9-2 run to end the period and send the Wine and Gold into the locker room down just three.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Cavs trailed by five, 83-78. Anderson Varejao’s layup got Cleveland to within a deuce. One possession later, LeBron canned a three-pointer to put the Cavs up, 86-85. They didn’t trail the rest of the way.
Scene and Heard – The celebrities always come out at the World’s Most Famous Arena. On hand for Thursday night’s contest were Michael J. Fox, Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr., Cedric the Entertainer, Jets defensive tackle Muhammed Wilkerson, Knicks legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Vincent Piazza (who plays Lucky Luciano on “Boardwalk Empire” and made an appearance in the Cavs locker room), Theo Rossi (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia
By the Numbers – 6 … free throw attempts by the Knicks on Thursday night. Three Knicks starters – including Carmelo Anthony as well as each of New York’s reserves – didn’t toe the stripe a single time against Cleveland. The Cavs went to the line 26 times, converting 20 free throws.
Quotable – Kyrie Irving, on his game-clinching layup …
”Coach did a great job of drawing up a play and my teammates and coaching staff trust me enough to clear out one side and give me a chance to get the best shot possible for our team and make a play and I’m just thankful that they instill that confidence in me.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers’ three-game roadie continues on Friday night as the Cavaliers look to avenge a tough loss to the Raptors when they travel to Toronto. After a couple days off, they travel to Brooklyn for a Monday night meeting with the Nets. They return home for their second contest with the Raptors in five days – welcoming Toronto to The Q on Tuesday night. After that, it’s right back on the road – for a marquee matchup with Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Thursday in OKC followed by a meeting with the Pelicans on Friday night in the Big Easy.