By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 117, CAVALIERS 86 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it Happened:
Keeping up with a recent trend, the Knicks didn't wait long to put tonight's game out of reach. Facing the opportunity to extend their winning streak to four games, they blitzed the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers from the jump, opening up a 17-point lead after one quarter and cruising to a 117-86 victory.
Once again, Carmelo Anthony was superb, scoring 22 of his 29 points in the first half. The Knicks' All-Star joined the 19,000 point club in the blowout win.
Smith's usual partner in crime off the bench, Tim Hardaway Jr., picked up the slack for the shorthanded Knicks. The pair of dynamic wings had been averaging about 30 points per game over the last three, and Hardaway nearly reached that himself on his way to a career-high 29 points on 11 for 17 shooting from the floor. He also hit six threes, tying a Knicks rookie record.
Once again, New York's offense got everything it wanted, shooting 56.6% from the field and 46.2% from three in the win. The pick-and-roll combination of Raymond Felton (12 points, nine assists) and Tyson Chandler (11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) continued to flow, another key to the dominant performance.
Knick of the Night:
Hardaway wins the honor tonight for his career-high scoring output and the growth he continues to show in his game. His energy on and off the bench provides an obvious spark for his teammates, and he's proving to be the rare rookie who helps elevate the level of play of those around him.
After winning four in a row, the Knicks welcome the defending-champion Heat to Madison Square Garden for a marquee matchup on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday.