Mar 31, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Alonzo Gee (33) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Well, the Knicks beat the Cavaliers. On this particular night, "the Cavaliers" referred to a group of individuals that lacked Kyrie Irving and a couple other rotation players and featured guys like Donald Sloan, Lester Hudson, and Semih Erden instead. The Knicks, reeling from the rough news about Jeremy Lin and missing a fat chunk of their own rotation, didn't play well at all-- no better, to my eye, than they did in Friday's loss to the Hawks-- but looked a bit livelier on defense and got enough from their makeshift offense to outplay the meager competition described above.
Tonight's game was, as Haitian Sensation described it in the thread, one full of "muck". Both teams fumbled aaway numerous possessions, and even when they managed to get shots up, caught a ton of front rim. New York benefited from better individual performances, though, which makes sense because they employed better individuals. Carmelo Anthony led the starters with 19 points on another solid (7-14) shooting night while Baron Davis was much steadier and Tyson Chandler lorded over both both backboards. Iman Shumpert shot poorly (3-12) but made a nuisance of himself on defense, and unlike last night, he had help from J.R. Smith (they each snaggled five steals) on that end. Earl was also kind enough to pick up Shump's scoring slack. He led all players with 20 points off the bench, redeeming Friday night's sorry performance by cookin' soup from outside, working his way into the paint, and pulling down nine rebounds.
That's pretty much it. The Knicks, weary and undermanned, didn't exactly glow in their return to the Garden, but it didn't take much to beat an equally depleted bunch of Cavaliers. The good news is that the victory was as valuable as it was yucky. New York's win combined with a Milwaukee loss negated Friday's events and boosted the Knicks back up to a 2.5-game lead in the eighth spot. That's prettyyyyy important. After playing eight games in eleven days, the Knicks have a light but tough week coming up: away games in Indiana and Orlando followed by a home game against The Bulls. So, yeah, it was imperative that New York take the win against a team that started Donald Sloan.
More on this one tomorrow of the mood strikes me. There were a few performances worth fleshing out and moments/developments worth discussing, but we'll save 'em. Good night, all!