(On the game tonight): “First half, I thought our guys played extremely hard. I don’t know if it caught up to us in the second half. (We) didn’t seem to have the same energy and you know you’re playing against a veteran team. They’re not going to panic. They’re just going to keep playing and put a little more emphasis on the defensive end. But all-in-all, I thought our guys played hard. Being without Tyler and Dion, I thought the effort was great. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t do some of the things that we should have done in the second half to get the victory.”
(On the second half): “I thought all of a sudden we relaxed. That’s the first thing I told them at halftime. You can’t relax. I thought we relaxed in the second quarter. In the third quarter, we came out the wrong way. I didn’t think we came out with that aggressive mindset to try and build that lead back up. Then again, you’re playing against a very good basketball team with a lot of veterans that understand how to play…We had 20 assists at halftime. We moved the ball and the energy was great. In the second half, we didn’t do that. Everybody stood around and we just didn’t get back into that flow of really trying to make them work defensively. We had five assists in the second half.”
(On New York’s three-point shooting): “They live and die by that. That’s where they’re tough. They’re going to spread you out, and if they’re making them, they’re a tough team to beat. We had about four or five breakdowns defensively. We talked about switching one through four. One guy doesn’t switch and (Steve) Novak hits a three. He hit two when we didn’t switch and that lack of focus hurts you. Again, I thought in the second half we were in the game mentally as well as physically but we weren’t into it like we were in the first quarter.”
(On what the difference was in the second half): “It was our lack of intensity going into the third quarter. (The Knicks) got three easy baskets and the next thing you know, we’re in a tie game. In the fourth quarter, they hit a few baskets and we had a couple of plays on both ends of the floor that didn’t go our way. One of those plays was the tap out with three seconds on the shot clock. A couple of plays like that could have been avoided if we kept the lead and kept our intensity up.”
(On if it’s human nature to ease up on a team after gaining 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.”
(On the team’s lack of intensity in the second half): “Once we lost our focus and they went on that 10-0 run. We forgot what got us the lead. We weren’t getting stops that we needed and our identity needs to be our defensive presence.”
(On why the team was unable to recapture the momentum in the second half): “When you’re facing a team like that who shoot 30 threes in a game, no lead is big. You can always come back when you shoot 30 threes a game. You have guys out there that were just making plays for them. They made some threes in the second half; we didn’t get as many stops and we missed shots.”
(On adjusting with Carmelo Anthony out): “We pretty much knew what was going to happen. J.R. (Smith) was going to become more of a focal point. (The Knicks) were going to put the ball in his hands a lot more and let him make plays, which he did as soon as the second half started. They were going to spread the ball out more and try to make some threes.”
(On the defense turning it around at the end of the second quarter): “Guys were (playing) gritty tonight. After we lost (Anthony) guys really started to fight. Right before the half, we were able to get back into it. The beginning of the third quarter was huge for us. We came up with stop after stop. We were scoring the ball, freelancing and playing. It carried over to the fourth quarter. We were able to hold them to 36 in the second half, which was key.”
(On Stoudemire’s performance): “He was fantastic. We got him right at 31 minutes. We were just trying to time the minutes for him based on what he had played during the first half.”
(On the game plan for guarding Irving on the final possession): “We were going to switch everything and force them to put the ball on the floor. We knew the ball was going to go to (Irving). (Irving) tried to draw the foul and Tyson did a great job on him. He got a piece of the ball.
(On the game): “We came out and a lot of guys were sluggish and tired from our game last night. Late in the second quarter we got focused defensively and turned the game around.”
(On the final play of the game): “I knew they were going to him. I knew if I got switched on him I would force him to drive. He went for the three-point shoot and I kind of baited him into shooting where I could still get to the shot.”
• The Cavaliers shot a season-high .737 (14-19) in the first quarter and finished the first half on a season-high .684 (26-38) shooting from the field.
• Cleveland recorded 25 assists tonight. Since February 2nd, the Cavs are averaging 23.7 assists to just 12.0 turnovers.
• In his first start as a Cavalier, Marreese Speights recorded a season-high 23 points on 10-14 (.714) shooting from the field and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. Speights scored 15 points in the first quarter and shot a perfect 10-10 in the first half. The last NBA player to take at least 10 field goal attempts in a half and make all of them was Derrick Rose, when he shot a perfect 10-10 in the second half against the Thunder on March 18, 2009. Speights has scored in double figures in 13 of 17 contests as a Cavalier and is averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game over that stretch.
• Kyrie Irving finished with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes. Irving has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four contests against the Knicks and is averaging 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 33.8 minutes per game during that span.
• Tristan Thompson tallied a near double-double with 14 points on 6-9 (.666) shooting and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. Over his last 34 games, Thompson is averaging 13.6 points on .500 shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds and 1.0 block in 32.9 minutes per game.
• Luke Walton added a career-high 12 assists in 29 minutes off the bench, becoming the first Cavs reserve to dish out at least 10 assists since Ramon Sessions on January 31, 2012 (10 assists vs. Boston). The last Cavaliers player to record at least 12 assists off the bench was Mo Williams, when he finished with 14 assists against the Clippers on February 11, 2011.
• C.J. Miles finished with 11 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Miles has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight contests and is averaging 12.5 points, including shooting .422 (19-45) from long range, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 20.1 minutes off the bench over that span.