The New York Knicks 96-86 loss tonight to the Cleveland Cavaliers was eerily similar to their loss to the San Antonio Spurs, indicating three things: the Knicks didn't learn some valuable lessons, Coach Fisher needs to make the necessary adjustments to his rotations, and the dreaded third quarter of doom has been allowed to live on.
As expected, the back court was atrocious on both ends of the ball. Early in the game, Sasha Vujacic had a hot hand contributing to the double digit lead the Knicks maintained throughout the first quarter. They came out of the gates sharp, much like they did against Tim Duncan and Co., scoring 32 points, but began to shrink away scoring only 54 points through the next three quarters. Another odd and detrimental similarity: the Knicks scored zero fast break points in comparison to the Cavs' 24.
A questionable decision by Fisher was to keep an obviously struggling Jose Calderon in the game for as long as he did, particularly during crunch time when immediate offense was needed. In 29 minutes, Calderon scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting. He remains a liability and the pace is incredibly affected when he is on the floor. Jerian Grant, the dynamic and speedy point guard, coming off an impressive game against San Antonio, played only 17 minutes. The lack of minutes forward Derrick Williams has been receiving is another questionable decision, as his agility and ability to get to the basket was sorely missed.
Unexpected, was the anticipated matchup of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. A lethargic James looked out of it mentally and physically, starting the game off ice cold. His frustrations were taken out on his jersey sleeves which he ripped to shreds midway through the game. Naturally, he hit some big threes in the fourth quarter, but he shot 9-for-23 overall. Anthony continued to struggle as he, too, fell into a shooting slump, scoring only 17 points on 18 attempted shots. He did, however, grab 12 boards, but both franchise players sat frustrated on the bench when the Cavs took their first lead of the night in the third quarter, in which the Knicks shot only 33 percent.
Another looming issue for the Knicks tonight was the early foul trouble that rookie Kristaps Porzingis found himself in after being the Knicks most potent offensive weapon. With another dunk over Kevin Love, Porzingis was valued everywhere but on the bench where he spent ample minutes, but as the rookie continues to develop, hopefully he'll learn to defend without committing the fouls so frequently. He scored 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
Mo Williams was huge for the Cavs, as he scored 22 points on 42 percent shooting. Tristan Thompson, who signed a hefty $82 million contract with the Cavs this offseason, recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He was also essential to the Cavs victory, but overall as a team, they were able to make the plays down the stretch that the Knicks weren't and so resulted in their improved record of 4-1.
The Knicks look to even their record to 3-3 and win their first home game when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the Garden this Friday.