Cleveland Cavaliers get 10th straight win over New York Knicks

By The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 24, 2017 at 6:36 AM
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CLEVELAND -- Like so many other games against the New York Knicks, this one "got too easy" for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That's what Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said after his team beat the New York Knicks for the 10th straight time, 119-104 Thursday in the first game back from the All-Star break for both squads.

LeBron James notched his sixth triple-double this season, with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists, and Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 23 points.

But Lue needed James for 37 minutes because the Cavs momentarily allowed the Knicks turn a blowout into a close game with a sloppy third quarter. And for a team trying to rest its stars ahead of what looks to be a long playoff run ahead, this was a wasted opportunity.

"We got up and then it got too easy for us and we started messing around," Lue said. "These are the games, third quarter you put a team away, we get our rest. Instead you've got to come out and now guys gotta play more minutes because we're not approaching and taking the game serious once we get up and get easy leads. Little disappointed about that, but it was a good win for us after the break."

Kyle Korver scored 20 points off the bench for the Cavs and connected on six 3-pointers. Tristan Thompson contributed his fourth consecutive double-double for the Cavs with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Channing Frye added 14 points for Cleveland and Richard Jefferson scored 14 off the bench.

The Knicks were led by 25 points from Courtney Lee and 20 from Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Rose scored 13. Rumors swirled for weeks that either Anthony or Rose could be traded; neither was by the NBA's 3 p.m. deadline.

"Nobody likes to be in a limbo," Anthony said. "We wanted to find something worth talking about (a possible trade for Anthony). Obviously, nothing was worth bringing to the table."

Kristaps Porzingis did not return for the second half because of a sprained right ankle. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes.

The Cavs have won four straight overall and are 8-1 in February. The Knicks have lost six of seven. Cleveland's last loss to the Knicks was Oct. 30, 2014 -- the night James formerly returned to the Cavs.

This was the 48th regular-season triple-double of James' career. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and committed six turnovers.

The Knicks trailed 69-51 at halftime but opened the third quarter on an 11-2 spurt. The game was within at the end of the third. James dished out eight assists, scored six points, and grabbed six boards as Cleveland's surprisingly strong second unit of him, Derrick Williams (10 points), Jefferson, Korver, and Frye controlled the quarter.

"Just gives us a lot of flexibility defensively," James said. "And it gives us a lot of athleticism and shooting offensively. We got Kyle, RJ, and Channing out on the floor, and myself and D-Will, we're slashing and doing what we need to do offensively, and we play with a lot of speed."

Irving lost two streaks Thursday night. Because he didn't play in the fourth quarter, he fell two points shy of scoring at least 25 for the sixth-consecutive game.

Irving also had had his string of 29 consecutive made free throws snapped when he missed his first attempt at 3:25 of the second quarter. It was his longest streak since he made 44 straight from Feb. 12 to March 6 in 2015.

NOTES:

-- Former Knicks great and Cleveland native Charles Oakley sat courtside next to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Oakley is feuding with Knicks owner James Dolan, who had Oakley removed from Madison Square Garden this month and arrested. Oakley had tickets for the game through a Cleveland attorney, but Gilbert invited Oakley to sit next to him after the fact.

-- Knicks C Joakim Noah missed his sixth straight game. He's out with a sore left hamstring.

-- Cavs SG J.R. Smith underwent a bone scan on his fractured right thumb during the All-Star break. General manager David Griffin said Smith was "on schedule, maybe slightly ahead of schedule" to return from surgery, which was Dec. 23. Smith's original timetable to return was 12-to-14 weeks, which would place him on the court in mid-March.

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