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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Knicks revert back to old tanking ways
Last night, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks remembered who they were. Coming into the game, the Knicks were on a roll. New York temporarily parked the tank and won three of their last four games. Towards the end of the third quarter, it seemed like the Knicks would continue their winning ways — thanks to a 19-6 run. Going into the fourth quarter, the Knicks held a 12-point lead, 97-85, and led by as much as 14.
For most of the fourth, New York staved off Cleveland. Whenever Cleveland would cut into the lead, the Knicks found a way to nail a much-needed shot to increase their advantage. Then with three minutes remaining, the Knicks revved up their orange and blue tank’s engine and drove it across Madison Square Garden’s hardwood court.
Cavaliers erase Knicks lead late in the fourth quarter
First, Collin Sexton made two free throws to bring the Cavaliers within four, 115-111. Kevin Knox tried to respond with a midrange jumper but failed. Afterward, Cedi Osman grabbed the rebound and made the Knicks pay with a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. Following Osman’s three, there were two opportunities for the orange and blue to redeem themselves, but David Fizdale’s men couldn’t respond. Eventually, the Cavaliers made them pay after Jordan Clarkson invaded the passing lane and stole Dennis Smith Jr.’s pass.
Clarkson had an open, well somewhat open, lane to the basket, and Trier fouled him before he could get a shot up. The referee called a clear path foul on Trier, which gave Clarkson two free throws and gave the ball back to the Cavaliers. As usual, the basketball gods cursed the Knicks again. Clarkson made both free throws, then proceeded to nail a corner three to complete a five-point play for Cleveland. At that point, the Cavaliers led 119-115 with 1:21 remaining, and it was game over.
The Knicks ended up losing 125-118.
Knicks top-10 defense in February was non-existent
Throughout February, New York had the 10th best defense in the league. Last night, New York’s defense was non-existent. The Knicks allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 51.2% from the field (41-80) and 41.2% from the land of plenty (14-34). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that allowing a team to shoot over 50%, and over 40% from deep, is a recipe for disaster.
At halftime, the Knicks led 59-57. The largest lead in the first half was held by the Cavaliers, who led by five points in the first quarter.
New York Knicks stats
New York had seven players who scored in double-digits. Allonzo Trier continued his impressive play and led the Knicks with 22 points. Noah Vonleh had a perfect shooting game, shooting 7-7 from the field, but not at the free throw line, missing three of his five free throws. He finished with a double-double — 16 points, 10 rebounds.
Smith Jr. contributed with 16 points and eight assists. Henry Ellenson and Mitchell Robinson scored 13 and 12 points respectively. Robinson also grabbed seven rebounds and added two blocks to his name. Emmanuel Mudiay and Lance Thomas finished with 10 points each.
Cleveland Cavaliers stats
Kevin Love relived his glory days and played as if he had LeBron James by his side again. He led the Cavaliers with 26 points and eight rebounds. Clarkson and Sexton contributed with 22 points each. Also, Osman put in a good performance, finishing with 21 points.
Updated Zion Williamson standings
After last night’s performance, there’s bad news and good news for Knicks fans. The bad news is the Knicks lost. The good news is the Knicks loss brings the orange and blue one step closer to Zion Williamson. In the updated Road to Zion standings, New York now has a stranglehold on the second spot.
Now, the Knicks will take the tank on a West Coast road trip, which includes stops in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Phoenix. The next game will be on Sunday, at the Staples Center, to face the Clippers at 3:30 pm.