KNICKS 103 CAVALIERS 102 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
With Carmelo Anthony and Rasheed Wallace sidelined, the Knicks entered another home game shorthanded in pursuit of perfection on Saturday night. Some nervous moments down the stretch at Madison Square Garden but the Knicks escaped with a 103-102 victory to remain the only undefeated team at home in the NBA.
New York held a 95-87 lead with three minutes left in the contest after Jason Kidd nailed a 3-pointer and Raymond Felton connected on a jumper in the paint. Cleveland’s super sophomore Kryie Irving put his game into overdrive with a ridiculous corner 3-pointer with Jason Kidd draped all over him. He then sunk a long bomb as the game clock read 14.2 seconds and the Knicks holding a slight 101-99 advantage.
The Cavaliers were forced to play the foul game and sent Steve Novak to the charity stripe for two attempts. Novak hit 1-of-2 and Cleveland only trailed by two points. On the Cavaliers finalpossession, Tyson Chandler ran out to Irving for the double team and the young point guard found a streaking Anderson Varejao down the lane. J.R. Smith tried to take a charge on the big man but was whistled for the foul.
Varejao hit the first shot before missing his second attempt to tie the game. Smith corralled the errant shot and New York improved to 10-0 at Madison Square Garden, 18-5 overall and winners of four straight games.
Irving was spectacular with 17 of his career-high 41 points in the fourth quarter. On the other side, Felton dropped 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Chandler scored 23 and grabbed 10 boards in the win.
To start the contest, head coach Mike Woodson placed Chris Copeland at the power forward spot in place of Anthony. The Knicks All-Star missed Saturday’s game with an ankle injury suffered in the win over Lakers.
“Anytime you are shorthanded…you have to log some minutes. I needed Tyson towards the end. I played the whole second half and it worked out for us. His offense came to life and it was huge.” -- Mike Woodson
Chandler was near unstoppable on the pick-and-roll tonight. As New York placed 3-point shooters on the perimeter, Chandler pounded the paint off that 1-5 pick-and-roll. He is one of the most efficient players in the entire NBA and Saturday night was no different. Hitting 9-of-10 from the floor, Chandler registered 23 points and was the emotional leader in the final minutes with the crowd desperately seeking another win at MSG.
Varejao is the league’s leading rebounder but he was held in-check by Chandler and the Knicks front line. Varejao only recorded eight rebounds in the loss while Chandler posted double digit boards in the win.
The Knicks will enjoy a day off on Sunday in NYC before hosting the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Garden.