So the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-13) started out a game with a strong start for the first time in, well, this season. And who better to come against than the hapless New York Knicks (5-15) who continue to be an NBA laughing stock after falling to the Boston Celtics by 40+ points on Sunday. Cleveland was able to fight off a New York comeback to end the second quarter after the Knicks erased an 18-point first half lead by the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving led the way for Cleveland, however, all night long, bringing Cleveland back up 18 points in the third quarter. The Cavs finished off the Knicks in the fourth handily, winning 109-94 for their most lopsided victory of the season.
Key Play to the Game:
What got the Cavs going in the third quarter and helped the team regain an 18‐point lead that was erased in the second quarter was a very crafty Kyrie Irving. Since entering the NBA, Kyrie has eaten up the Knicks offense. His career high in points came in New York last season during a time he was donning the black mask, as he tallied 41 points. This game, however, was a much more impressive overall effort, as Kyrie the distributor and Kyrie the shooter both came to play tonight. Anyways, at the 9:48 mark in the third quarter, Kyrie began driving to the hole, but then quickly opted to toss it up to Alonzo Gee for the emphatic slam dunk. This extended the Cavaliers lead to four points, prompting a 30‐16 to end the half. This gave Cleveland its 18‐point blown lead back, putting Cleveland in a great position to win in the fourth quarter. Kyrie found his teammates, especially Gee, frequently in the third quarter and ripped out the soul of Pablo Prigioni in the process.
Wine & Gold MVP:
Who else would it be? Kyrie is a Knick destroyer. He wreaks havoc on the Knicks for fun. He was aggressive going to the hold, either getting fouled or actually finishing at the rim. This hasn’t been the case so far in the first quarter of the NBA season, but he took a matchup against Prigioni like he should be taking every point guard matchup in every game. There wasn’t a whole lot of dribbling from one side of the court to another. Instead, Kyrie patiently used his dribble to see what the defense was showing him, then, either attacked the rim, set up for a three‐pointer or dished it to a variety of Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum or Gee. Irving didn’t have to work his fourth quarter magic this time around despite reaching double digits, but still was a force to reckon with until the very end. He ended with 37 points and 11 assists, while shooting 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) from the field and 4 of 7 (57.1 percent) from three. I spoke on Irving’s shooting struggles in the preview for this game, and used this matchup as a challenge for Kyrie to turn the corner on his cold start to the season.This was the best Kyrie has looked in Wine & Gold (even though the Cavs donned the white jerseys on Tuesday night).
This Knicks team is so bad that I want to shower while watching them.
— Justin Faudree (@SmoothsHoops) December 11, 2013
This Jack/Waiters/Bennett/Clark/Varejao lineup has no idea what it’s doing on offense
— Trevor Mistlenottoe (@Tmagnotti) December 11, 2013
The Dion hyperbole is mind blowing to me. RT @haralabob: Dion Waiters actually plays in the NBA? Amazing.
— Big Daddy Cool Dad (@Nominataur) December 11, 2013
What happened in that 2nd quarter @FSOAllieOop? Jarrett Jack happened.
— realcavsfans.com (@realcavsfans) December 11, 2013
Kyrie Irving likes playing the Knicks. He now has 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting. In 3 games vs. NYK last season, he avg 31.3 pts. #Cavs
— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) December 11, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown:
Alright. Let’s take a look at a certain lineup that pretty much erased Cleveland’s double‐digit lead in the second quarter: Jarrett Jack/Dion Waiters/Anthony Bennett/Earl Clark/Anderson Varejao. That lineup just screams bad shot selection, especially in the backcourt. Yes, Jack was able to help the Cavaliers regain the lead at the end of the second quarter, but the offensive rhythm that Cleveland had going in the first quarter for the first time all season went in the garbage as soon as this collective unit set foot on the court. Alright, I know we’re trying to get guys like Bennett their needed minutes, but this was the first time that Cleveland had held a significant lead early on in a contest. Why not keep a good thing going? Brown has kept lineups on the court this season that are designed to win games, but this was one set that I wasn’t fond of at all. Varejao has been struggling with the fluidity of the offense early on in the season (which is a head scratcher), so the lead was pretty much doomed when these guys came out. Since Bennett is given minimal time anyways, why not wait until a win looks more safe for the Cavs? Just a thought.
The Cavaliers are headed to Miami this weekend. Let’s get jiggy with it. On Friday, the team will match up against the faltering Orlando Magic (6-15) at the Amway Center. Then they’ll have a tilt with the Miami Heat the following day. Let’s see if the Cavaliers can at least pick up one of these road wins (they’ve gone 1-10 in their first 11 away games of the season). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.