The New York Knicks sought to break a four-game losing streak against the injury-depleted Cleveland Cavaliers.
Okay, so the New York Knicks came in on a four-game losing streak.
Okay, so RJ Barrett’s shooting woes are still a problem.
Fine, maybe watching WandaVision and ordering a large meat lover’s pie would be a better use of a Friday night.
Except, Friday’s tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers had all the makings of a cupcake game. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Kevin Love were all out with injuries. A banged up Andre Drummond was set to play, but likely without the newly acquired Jarrett Allen.
The stage was set. Could the New York Knicks take advantage of a desperately needed tuneup game? Would RJ Barrett go off and Julius Randle continue his breakout season?
But most important of all, would the Knicks finally get back in the win column?
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the ESNY Gif All-Stars!
1st quarter: Up the energy
All things considered, this wasn’t a terrible quarter for the New York Knicks. They shot 50% from the field, 43.8% from three, and only trailed Cleveland 28-25 after one.
However, Cleveland completely outpaced the Knicks in terms of energy. Shorthanded as they were, they had way more bounce in their step and played with a sense of urgency. Both teams have the same record at 5-7, but Cleveland played as though losing wasn’t an option.
Mitchell Robinson also struggled to defend Andre Drummond, who had nine points and eight rebounds in the quarter. Hopefully, coach Tom Thibodeau had some old ’80s exercise tapes to play in-between quarters, because New York couldn’t play sluggish the rest of the way.
Halftime report: Official trickery
In the first half, the New York Knicks shot 53.8% from the floor and 46.2% from three. The team’s whole energy changed in the second quarter as New York managed to keep up with Cleveland.
And yet, the Cavaliers led 57-55 at halftime. How, you ask? Well, by either complete shrewdness or some type of trickery, Cleveland attempted 22 free throws compared to just seven for New York. Andre Drummond was a loose cannon and had 20 points and 14 rebounds in the half.
The good news is despite calls not going their way, the New York Knicks were far from out of the game. With a focused second half, breaking the streak was within reach.
But would the officials cooperate?
3rd quarter: Slow start, strong finish
For half of the third quarter, the New York Knicks played from behind. Cedi Osman torched them for ten points in the third, including two threes. Furthermore, New York just had a hard time matching Cleveland’s pace and communication.
However, the slow start to the second half was a distant memory before long. The Knicks closed the third on a 12-0 run and entered the fourth with the game tied 80-80. Nerlens Noel played out of his mind on the defensive side, and Immanuel Quickley proved a spark once again.
Still, no Knicks fan enjoys a close game entering the fourth. Visiting Orin Scrivello’s office for a root canal would be a better activity, no?
4th quarter: Fatal mistakes
An improved performance can be negated by a critical mistake, and such was the case for the New York Knicks tonight. After scoring four quick points to open the quarter, they coughed up the lead again to Cleveland.
Still, there was hope as the Knicks trailed by two with three minutes to play. Cue a three by former Knick Damyean Dotson, an RJ Barrett turnover, and a Julius Randle clear-path foul before Dotson sunk free throws and another layup. At the final buzzer, the Cavaliers won out 106-103.
Maybe it was Drummond’s 33 points and 23 rebounds. Perhaps Cleveland attempting 34 free throws to New York’s 16.
Either way, a five-game losing streak has hit New York, and this loss hurts worse than the others.
Player of the Game: Immanuel Quickley
Final score aside, the rookie did a great job of keeping the Knicks in the game. With 23 points and a trio of threes off the bench, here’s hoping the former Kentucky star continues to see extended minutes.