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Playing their fifth game in seven days, the Wine & Gold looked utterly depleted after intermission on Monday afternoon at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, dropping a 20-point decision to an 11-win squad.
Returning home after their longest trip of the season – a six-game, 11-day odyssey – the Cavaliers took a one-point lead into the locker room. But they would proceed to score just 14 points in the third quarter and didn’t have much more in the fourth – dropping their fifth straight, 106-86, to open a three-game homestand.
Despite Tristan Thompson pulling down a career-high 22 rebounds, the Wine & Gold were outscored in the paint, 56-34. Cleveland shot just 34 percent overall from the floor, including a combined 10-of-40 mark from their young starting backcourt. Thompson was also the only frontline starter to attempt a free throw.
Even with Monday’s poor offensive showing, all five Cavs starters notched double-figures and Larry Nance Jr. pitched in with 12 points off the bench, adding 10 boards for his fourth double-double of the year.
Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting to go with five boards and four assists. His backcourt mate, Darius Garland, found the sledding equally difficult, going 4-of-20 from the floor to finish with 11 points, three boards and three assists.
Cedi Osman stayed strong from beyond the arc – following up a 4-of-5 showing from deep on Saturday with a 4-of-6 mark on Monday, going 5-of-13 overall for 14 points and three assists.
Kevin Love chipped in with 12 points and nine boards, going 4-of-10 from long-range and 4-of-14 from the field overall.
Thompson added 13 points to his career night on the boards, going 5-of-11 from the floor.
The Knicks veteran frontcourt duo of Marcus Morris and Julius Randle notched 19 points apiece in the win, with Randle pacing New York with nine boards. Overall, six Knicks finished in double-figures as New York’s second unit outdid Cleveland’s, 37-19, in the win.
Collin Sexton gets the steal on defense which leads to a transition play where Cedi Osman finds Larry Nance Jr. for the one-handed dunk on offense.
Like many young squads, at some point the Wine & Gold will need to learn how to finish what they started – and figure out how to parlay a first half-lead into second-half momentum.
Instead, the Knicks struck immediately after halftime – snagging the lead back three minutes into the second stanza and not looking back.
Elfrid Payton’s floater early in that third gave New York the lead, keying a 15-0 run that ended with a very questionable flagrant-1 call against Kevin Love on a long jumpshot attempt by Marcus Morris.
The Knicks led by 15 going into the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers didn’t get within single digits the rest of the way.
5 … career contests that Tristan Thompson has grabbed at least 20 rebounds, including his career-best 22 on Monday (and less than two weeks after netting a career-high 35 points against Detroit).
In his team-best 21st double-double of the season, Thompson also snagged 10 offensive rebounds – the sixth time in his career that he’s grabbed double-digit boards off the offensive glass.
Kevin Love, on Monday’s performance against New York …
"Whether you go on a long east coast road trip or a long west coast road trip – we were gone 11 days, six games, coming back, having a day off, having no shootaround, coming in and playing at 5 p.m. against a team that’s young and going to push the pace and get up and down – it’s tough. But obviously that sounds like an excuse, but I’ve seen it time and time again where you come out and either lay an egg or you’re just slow motion. So that was kind of how we felt tonight and didn’t look too good."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Cavaliers stay home for the next two and play six of their next seven games right here at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, including Thursday night when they welcome Bradley Beal and the Wizards to town.
Cleveland welcomes the Bulls one week after surrendering a 19-point second half lead in the Windy City, then head to Detroit for their final road game of the month on Monday night. The following evening, it’s the Cleveland debut of Zion Williamson and the new-look Pelicans followed by a visit from the World Champs on Thursday to wrap up the January slate.