I have always preferred a good old heavy spread of crunchy chunky peanut butter on my toasts. On Tuesday, Oct. 31st, I learned the New York Knicks players are more into feasting on the smooth, soft variety.
Evan Mobley doesn’t come with a wrapper, so I cannot factually confirm that’s the case, but you just have to watch this young man face the Knicks to witness melting bone and flesh.
Anyway, our beloved Knickerbockers visited The Land after playing in the ATL and the Big Easy last weekend and all they did was put up a solid 109-91 victory dropping the Cavaliers to an early 1-3 hole while bringing New York’s record to an even 2-2.
I don’t want to bash Mobley more than I did above, so let’s just wrap it up (no pun intended) by saying that Evan played center in replacement for the injured Jarret Allen, logged 30 minutes, and scored six points to go with 12 rebounds. Between pops and boards, it adds to 18. His plus/minus on the day was a team-worst minus-19. Trick and treat!
With more than five minutes left in the fourth, the Cavs just waived the proverbial flag. Emoni Bates (s/o to my young man!), Craig Porter, and Damian Jones entered the game in exchange for Max Strus, the aforebashed Mobley, and Donovan Mitchell. The Knicks brought in Julius Randle in exchange for Donte DiVincenzo . . . because Thibs.
The scoreboard read NYK 102, CLE 83. Oooff.
As herbert pollack succinctly described this Halloween game: “Good to have an easy one.”
Now, let’s get real for a minute. The Knicks won the first leg of this back-to-back, home-and-home affair. The Knicks, however, entered the second half leading the Cavs by just six. Cleveland would make it a four-point game with 10:32 left in the third frame.
Tom Thibodeau said basta, called a timeout, and that was it.
“Thibs got on us, and we just turned it around,” Jalen Brunson said after the game. “A mixture of [curse words] probably. Can’t say exactly what he said—but yeah.”
That statement, coming from Brunson of all men, was quite shocking. Brunson, if you haven’t watched him speak to on-court reporters after games ever before, always says the same no matter how the matchup ends. Win? “I have to play better.” Loss? “I have to play better.” I’m 100% positive if there were draws in basketball, I’d go on and still say, “I have to play better.”
Don’t believe me? Peep.
"I gotta play better, I can't turn the ball over. We just gotta be ready to go…They're gonna adjust a little bit, we're gonna have to adjust a little bit…They're gonna come ready to play"— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) November 1, 2023
— Jalen Brunson on playing the Cavs again Wednesday at Madison Square Garden pic.twitter.com/Np4RvxgNN1
Brunson shared the scoring lead with Julius Randle, both dumping 19 points on Cleveland through 34 and 31 minutes. The point guard added five boards, two dimes, and two steals while turning the ball over five times (...). The big fella pulled down 10 rebounds to go with a couple of assists and a steal.
The bigger fella, Mitchell Robinson, ate the Cavs frontcourt alive with the help of Backup Big Boy I-Hart. Robinson only scored eight points and captured seven rebounds, but Hartenstein added 13 points and seven more boards to that and gave Mobley & Co. no option in the paint.
Our own Russell Richardson mentioned it after the game: “Is there a better starter/reserve center tandem in the NBA? Name it.”
“We came out sluggish to start, and then we got on track,” Thibodeau said postgame.
Randle acknowledged that the Knicks let Donovan Mitchell cook a bit more than they should early in the game before they went on to put the clamps on his game, short-circuiting the whole Cavs operation in the second half.
“We let [Mitchell] do whatever he wanted. That’s what we did in the first half,” said Randle. “In the second half, we adjusted and [made] him work. Make other guys try to beat us.”
And of course, the Cavs got ultra lost.
Renowned Cleveland-lifer Max Strus (“They did us dirty last year,” as in Cleveland) shot 2-of-9 from the floor and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc.
#HeatCulture bandwagoner Isaak Okoro and offseason addition Georges Niang each scored 11 points and combined to grab 10 rebounds.
Said Thibodeau: “And I thought once we got a little bit of rhythm and our defense together, we got some easy buckets and that got us going. “The first five minutes you’ve gotta be ready. So usually we’re pretty good from that aspect. So we had to get going. We had to get going together, and that’s sometimes there’s a tendency to ease into things. You can’t. I knew there was urgency on their part.”
Grimes had another low-scoring game bagging just five points, but he was the man tasked with defending DoMi for the most part, and he limited him to 26 points on an 11-of-20 shooting performance and an 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Josh Hart (7) outrebounded every player on the court on Tuesday except for Mobley (8) and Randle (10). If you’re bad at reading between the lines, you might have missed the joke baked into that.
Cuisine d’auteur, “We don’t really care.”
Those are the words of Hart, who was asked about the budding rivalry (in Cleveland’s collective mind exclusively, that must be) between the Knicks and the Cavs.
“That’s for them,” Hart said. “We’re just sirloin steaks.” No disrespect. (Tristan Thompson played 19 minutes, scored four points, got two rebounds).
The rest of our superheroes: RJ Barrett got a 16-3, Immanuel Quickley finished with an 18-3-2, DDV put up a solid 3-2-6-1, and every other man rostered by the Knicks—bar Evan Fournier—played at least a couple of minutes. Strength in numbers.
How do you rate Clyde's Halloween fit??— KNICKS ON MSG (@KnicksMSGN) November 1, 2023
Here ends the tale of just another Halloween day. It started with a bomb and ended with the Knicks showing aplomb. See you tonight at MSG.
Same foe, different venue. Tip-off at 7:30 ET. Don’t miss it.