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Wrap-Up – On Saturday night, the Cavaliers franchise honored the greatest rebounder in team history. They could have used him on the floor, as New York out-rebounded the Wine and Gold by a dozen boards, canning 14 three-pointers to hand Cleveland the 107-97 loss in front of a sold-out crowd at The Q.
Despite the loss, it was a special night on the North Coast – with the Cavaliers raising Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey No. 11 to the rafters in a touching halftime ceremony that reunited Cavalier legends with former players, general managers and even owners to celebrate Big Z. Former GM Wayne Embry introduced Ilgauskas – who thanked his family, his teammates and coaches and, of course, Cavalier fans everywhere for supporting him through good times and bad.
As for the game, Kyrie Irving led everyone with 30 points, nearly notching his second career triple-double with eight boards and eight assists. Spencer Hawes doubled-up with 21 points and 10 boards – going 7-for-15 from the floor. Jarrett Jack added 12 points, three boards and a pair of steals and Luol Deng rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points and seven rebounds. Anderson Varejao returned after missing the last 12 games with a sore back – going 2-of-2 from the floor for four points in just over nine minutes of action.
The Knicks attempted 31 three-pointers on the night and canned five of them in the fourth quarter. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni went a combined 12-for-21 from beyond the arc. New York out-rebounded Cleveland, 49-37, and topped the Cavs on second-chance points, 16-10, as the Wine and Gold dropped their fourth straight, including seven of their last nine.
Turning Point – Dion Waiters scored the first two buckets of the fourth quarter to give Cleveland a three-point lead, 80-77. But back-to-back treys by Prigioni and J.R. Smith gave New York the three-point lead. Less than two minutes later, Prigioni and Anthony hit back-to-back three-pointers, upping their edge to double-figures with 7:31 remaining. The Cavaliers would get no closer than a touchdown the rest of the way.
Game Ball – Spencer Hawes – Hawes got the Wine and Gold going early, netting 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter. The Cavaliers’ “stretch-5” went 4-for-7 from long-distance on the night and accounted for three of the Cavaliers’ five blocked shots. Hawes’ double-double was his third in the last six games.
By the Numbers – .810 … Cavaliers’ free throw percentage since the All-Star Break, 4th highest mark in the NBA during that span. Cleveland was 16-of-18 at the line on Saturday night and has topped 80 percent free throw shooting in 21 games this season.
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on his team’s effort on Saturday night …
”I thought last night we were better in terms of being more consistent on both sides of the floor, but obviously we didn’t get enough done to get the W. Tonight in the first half, I was just disappointed in the way that we played, especially defensively in terms of the physicality, sense of urgency and understanding what we need to do on that end of the floor.”
Up Next – With just 18 games remaining this season, the Cavaliers close out the road portion of their Western Conference schedule this week when they head west for three tough matchups. On Wednesday night it’s a matchup with the surprising Suns in Phoenix. On Friday night, the Cavs travel to Oakland where they’ll take on the Splash Brothers at Oracle Arena. They wrap up the three-game junket on Sunday night in Tinseltown – taking on Blake Griffin and the Clippers at Staples Center. The Cavs return home afterward, but it doesn’t get any easier – with tilts against Miami, OKC and Houston on the docket at The Q.