Photo Credit: John Kuntz, cleveland.com
In the clash between tanking titans, the Cavaliers were victorious
Tonight was the clash between two of the premier tanking teams in the NBA. In the blue corner was the New York Knicks, leading the Zion Williamson standings with an appalling record of 10-45. In the red corner was the Cleveland Cavaliers with a dreadful record of 11-45. These two tanking titans exchanged blow after blow. Ultimately, the Cavaliers rose victorious at home with the final score of 107-104.
With this loss, the Knicks have now lost a franchise record 17 straight games. The last win for the Knickerbockers came against a LeBron-less Los Angeles Lakers team on January 4th. Despite losing repeatedly, David Fizdale continuously prepares his troops for battle on the hardwood. At the moment, the young Knicks squad are taking many lumps, but hopefully, for the organization’s sake, the young players will grow and learn what it takes to win in the future.
Knicks played well despite losing
Lately, the Knicks have been playing well, and tonight was no different. With 9:35 left in the third quarter, the Cavaliers nearly won by a technical knockout when Larry Nance Jr. nailed a three to push Cleveland’s lead to 17, 71-54. Afterward, Fizdale called a timeout because he saw his players woozy from the beating. Coming out of the timeout, Fizdale instructed his men to play zone defense to get back into the game, and it worked.
In the fourth quarter, the Knicks mounted a comeback
Slowly, the Knicks chipped away at the Cavaliers lead. With 10:26 left in the fourth quarter, Matthew Dellavedova made a floater to give Cleveland a 12-point lead, 93-81. What followed was a Knicks barrage of points. John Jenkins, who was recently acquired from G-League affiliate Westchester Knicks, sparked a 10-2 run by nailing a midrange jumper. He also nailed a 3-pointer and provided the assist to Mitchell Robinson for the alley-oop slam over Dellavedova to cap off the run. Throughout the fourth, the Knicks maintained striking distance.
Ultimately, New York had a chance to take the lead. With almost two minutes left in the game, the Knicks trailed by seven, 105-98. Out of nowhere, Luke Kornet swished back-to-back threes to bring the team within one with less than a minute to go.
Again, the Knicks failed to take the lead in crunch time
On the next possession, Dellavedova missed a three, and Kornet grabbed the rebound. Again, Kornet had a wide open shot from three. He had all the time in the world. If he wanted to, he could have tested the direction of the wind, make the right calculations to shoot an accurate shot and make a few calls in the process. Unfortunately, Kornet hesitated and missed the jumper.
Following Kornet’s miss, Colin Sexton was fouled and made two free throws to increase the Cavaliers advantage to three. The Knicks tried to tie the game but failed. Dennis Smith Jr. was able to find Jenkins cutting baseline to the corner for a wide open three, but he missed. Afterward, Smith Jr. was able to grab the rebound and attempt a 3-pointer of his own. His jumper hit the side of the rim, and the Knicks added another loss to their record.
New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers stats
Kadeem Allen, eloquently given the nickname Kadeem “The Dream” by Walt “Clyde” Frazier, led New York in scoring. He finished the game with a career-high 25 points, off the bench, to go with 6 assists. DeAndre Jordan contributed with another double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds). Kevin Knox scored 13 points on 5-16 shooting. Smith Jr. and Robinson both had 10 points.
Collin “Young Bull” Sexton led Cleveland with 20 points on 7-21 shooting. Nance Jr. was a beast on the boards. He ended the game with 16 rebounds to go with 15 points. Kevin Love saw some action in the first half and finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson, Marquese Chriss, and Dellavedova scored 15, 14, and 12 points respectively.
The “Knicks Tank” continues to perform at optimal efficiency. The next stop for the NBA’s favorite tank is back to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to take on a well oiled Philadelphia 76ers team.