The last time the Cavaliers visited the park, the Knicks began a long winning streak. Perhaps Tuesday’s victory will have the same effect.
At the very least, cut a four-game losing sled that was threatening to spoil all the good vibes from a solid first half into the season. Instead of having to answer questions about how to fix their broken defense without an injury to quarterback Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks managed to exhale after one of their best performances in recent weeks.
Julius Randle got fresh and never let up, the bench produced both halves and the bad defense was solid, as the Knicks beat the Cavaliers, 105-103, for the second time in three attempts.
“We competed. We did everything we could and trusted each other,” said Jalen Bronson. “I can’t really explain it. Tonight we had that extra oomph, because we knew how we’d played the last two games.”
Randle was the star, scoring 36 points, hitting eight three-pointers and grabbing 13 rebounds along with four assists. His three-pointer with 2:07 left gave the Knicks the lead for good. But he had a lot of help.
RJ Barrett added 16 points and Bronson added 14. The benchers produced 27 points, and Isaiah Hartenstein was a key factor with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks, including a game guard. The Cavaliers were trailing twice in the closing seconds and star guard Donovan Mitchell passed Randle in the lane. Hartenstein denied his shot, and Evan Mobley missed the horn sound.
“He was great, a monster had been played by him,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Hartenstein. “He played a great game all around.”
After losing four straight games, mostly let down by their defense, the Knicks went back to basics. They contained the Cavaliers’ explosive point guard duo of Mitchell and Darius Garland, holding them short to 15 of 41 shooting and holding Cleveland (29-20) to eight second chance points after averaging 23.8 over the previous four games. They snapped a three-game streak giving up at least 35 points in the first quarter, bringing the Cavaliers up to 27.
“Obviously we’ve fallen four games in a row, and in the last two games in the fourth quarter we’re in a position to win and we haven’t done enough things to win the game,” Thibodeau said. So how do you get the urgency to get this done, and not get discouraged, to get more determined?
It looked like another wasted evening at Garden for the Knicks (26-23) after they took an 11-point halftime lead and trailed by eight midway through the third quarter, forcing Thibodeau to use two timeouts in the first seven minutes. from the period.
Everything he said after the second one works. The Knicks scored 19 of their next 25 points in the game, turning that eight-point deficit into a five-point lead. Randle scored eight of those points, including a deep, straight three-pointer in the closing seconds. After the shot, he memorized the crowd and comically talked trash to Cavaliers assistant coach Luke Walton, his coach with the Lakers.
“Let him know he’s very young, too,” said Randall with a chuckle.
When asked how it felt to have the ball out of his hands, Randle said: “[Like] money.”
Every Knicks managed to smile after this coveted win. Riding a five-game losing streak against the NBA’s best team, the Celtics, in Boston on Thursday night was no fun. The hope is that this victory starts the Knicks streak back in the right direction.
“The best thing about this game is that it wasn’t the cleanest, it wasn’t the smoothest, but we found a way to beat it and get the win,” Bronson said. “It’s easy to win games when everyone’s clicking and the ball is going in the hoop, but winning games when things aren’t going your way, that’s a good starting point for us.”
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