Cleveland came out doing much of what they pleased right from the opening tip, playing very loose and sassy despite New York keeping it within five for much of the game, Cleveland really only had themselves to blame. The Knicks were scrappy and sharing the ball fluidly but consistently caught in open water with tough mismatches. Eventually the Cavaliers took exception to the score being so close and LeBron James forced them out the door.
- On offense, the Knicks needed an extra burst from Lance Thomas with Carmelo Anthony out. It appears that Lance already has solid counters to strong close outs. Just simple up-fake, one dribble pull ups, the purity of which was clearly the result of hard work in practice. What isn't this guy capable of? Solid game all told, but he's definitely not ready to fill Carmelo's shoes.
- Kristaps Porzingis, on the other hand, put forth a nice effort as the number one option. Sadly he was jammed down to the last option in the waning moments. Derek Fisher, perhaps a little more ready to trust Arron Afflalo, didn't get anything flowing toward the Latvian Bumba Mamba. The only three he missed was a half court heave that would not have changed the outcome of the game. Anyway, 23 points and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes. Should have taken some more shots. At one point, with Matthew Dellavedova on his hip in the post, Fisher called a quick 20-second timeout rather than letting the entry pass happen.
- On the ensuing inbounds play, Afflalo shot an itchy triggered scud missile at the backboard and it was effectively over. Afflalo did have some nice post ups to keep the Knicks eating for a stretch and it seemed like that would force the Cavs to make some tough decisions on defense. Instead they just watched New York flit away.
- Jose Calderon was completely incapable of keeping squared up to Kyrie Irving on defense. Even if he was 10 feet away, he couldn't seem to get square with Irving. It was funny, because it was terrible. Not that anyone really keeps him in front, but the hope is that you can at least make him commit to step back jumpers and congested pull ups. If he is turning the corner on you before you even react, that spells trouble. Kyrie elected to Secret Squirrel his way through the Knick defense in search of exciting drives and dimes. Felt like a warm up for him.
- LeBron James didn't even consider taking a shot or worry about having the ball until Irving was subbed out. He took his first shot, a wide open layup out of a timeout, with six minutes left in the first. Lance Thomas made Lebron work for his looks and Bronzino forced up some junky stuff. As the game wound down, LeBron had seen quite enough of these damn Knicks and flipped the switch, typhooned his way to the hoop and put the game just out of reach.
- Clyde Frazier mentioned that Lebron was "flabbergasted, stupefied" by not getting calls, but he wasn't an aggressor all night. Hopping around and screaming at the zebras doesn't help you get back on defense though. Good job by the Knicks shrugging that off and pushing the other way. Extra special shout out to Langston Galloway who plays through the whistle better than pretty much anyone in the league.
- It would appear Lou Amundson has a severe distaste for Tristan Thompson. It alternated between working for and against the Knicks. Lots of folks seem to trace it to Thompson swiping a little paw at Lou in the post game of their last meeting. I say let them wrestle.
- Rebecca Haarlow was wearing the ill holiday buckskin dress. Looking like a clean shaven Grizzly Adams, starving for fashion. Interviewing little assistant coach men.
- Derrick Williams gave up on plays too easily, often assuming someone else would spring for a rebound and letting it fall to the deck unabated. He was a space cadet out there. Loose handle, forced up some awful shots, losing sight of the ball on defense. Solid job getting to the line in the first half, but dropped the hammer on his own foot in the second. The Knicks had a chance to push for the lead during his swing shift, and his inability to step even near the throat was headache inducing. The Knicks were able to snag a 2-point lead late in the game, but it would have been nice if they had a head start with Derrick and company. Might have been able to push the lead to eight.
- Hey did you hear the one about the polar bear that got hit by a train in Mexico? Yea, they don't know why it happened, but police think it was a loco-motive.
Well that was a stinker. This average NBA team needs to be better than morally victorious. The Cavs also could have decided to play with force the entire game and spanked the ass off the Knicks. Obviously New York missed Anthony and Kyle O'Quinn, but they dug their own grave just the same. "This was a stealable game," quoth MJ20 in the game thread. Twas. Next game is down in Atlanta on Saturday. Tim Hardaway Jr has played minutes at this point, but it would be nice to see Jerian Grant cut back door on him just once. Until next time, toaster strudels.