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Since returning from a six-game trip earlier this month, the Cavaliers have played just two games on the road. Neither one’s been pretty.
The Wine & Gold came out strong and took a double-digit lead out of the gate, but the Knicks reversed that storyline by halftime and held off every Cavalier run in the second stanza – taking the 102-81 decision to win the season rubber match on Friday night in New York.
Less than a week after getting bounced by 38 in Boston, the Cavs never found their footing at Madison Square Garden as the Knicks avenged a loss from exactly two weeks ago at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Cavs shot just 30 percent and scored 33 points at intermission and used a third quarter rally to get within a possession midway through the period. But New York pulled back ahead by double-figures headed to the fourth – and never let Cleveland back within single-figures from there.
Darius Garland, who keyed that third-quarter run, scoring 16 of his season-high 24 points after half – going 9-for-17 from the floor overall, including 4-of-6 from long-range to go with three boards and a pair of steals.
Collin Sexton never found his rhythm on Friday night, but still finished with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting, adding a team-high five assists in the loss.
Jarrett Allen – who was traveling to face the Knicks as a member of the Nets when he found out he was traded to Cleveland two weeks ago – came off the bench to net 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, adding nine boards, three assists, a steal and a block in 25 minutes of work.
Andre Drummond finished with just four points on 2-of-7 from the floor but still managed to lead both squads on the boards – snagging 15 rebounds to go with two steals and a pair of blocks.
It only took one preseason and one-quarter of the regular season for rookie Immanuel Quickley to establish himself as a thorn in the Cavaliers’ side – scoring 20-plus points for the third time this year (counting preseason), leading the Knicks with 24 points in 25 minutes off the bench, going 9-for-17 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from deep.
R.J. Barrett led New York’s starters with 24 points – going 8-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Darius Garland drives into the painted area and lobs an accurate pass up to Jarrett Allen who catches and dunks with one hand.
The ends of quarters on the road can be deadly, and the Cavaliers learned that painful lesson twice on Friday night.
With 4:09 to play in the first half, Isaac Okoro’s free throw got the Cavaliers to within three, 32-29, R.J. Barrett keyed an 11-2 run to end the second period and give the Knicks a two-TD lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Cleveland clawed their way back to within three again, 52-49, on Darius Garland’s floating 15-footer. But Tom Thibodeau’s squad responded again – this time closing the quarter on a 20-6 run, giving them a 17-point edge at the end of three and putting Cleveland behind the 8-ball the rest of the way.
By the Numbers - .619, .500, 1.000 … Dylan Windler’s shooting percentage from the floor (13-of-21), from three-point range (7-of-14) and from the stripe (4-of-4) in the five games since returning from a wrist injury in the season opener.
"A team is not something that happens overnight. Just because you throw a bunch of dudes in a locker room, it doesn’t make them a team. And we’re still learning to become that – to have that cohesiveness, to have that trust. To have that understanding of each other in certain situations. And that comes through experience So we have to have these experiences to get where we want to go."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
The Cavaliers play one more road game to close out the weekend – Sunday night in Minnesota – before returning for a four-game homestand.
After taking on the T-Wolves on their home floor on Sunday, Cleveland welcomes Anthony Edwards and Co. to town the following night. On Wednesday night, Tyronn Lue’s heavyweight Clippers come to Cleveland before the Wine & Gold host the Greek Freak and his Bucks for a weekend back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.
Following that, it’s a five-game West Coast trip that takes the Cavs to Phoenix, Denver, Portland, L.A. and San Francisco.