The last time the Cavaliers visited the Garden, the Knicks began a long winning streak. Maybe Tuesday’s victory will have the same effect.
At least it snapped a four-game losing skid that threatened to ruin all the good vibes of a solid first half of the season. Instead of having to answer questions about how they can mend their broken defense without injured center Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks were able to breathe after one of their best performances in recent weeks.
Julius Randle started hot and never really calmed down, the bench produced in both halves and the maligned defense was solid, as the Knicks beat the Cavaliers, 105-103, for the second time in three tries .
“We competed. We did everything we could and trusted each other,” said Jalen Brunson. “I can’t really explain it. Tonight we just got that extra punch because we knew how we played the last two games.
Randle was the star, scoring 36 points, reaching a career-high eight 3-pointers and grabbing 13 rebounds with four assists. His 3-pointer with 2:07 to play gave the Knicks the lead for good. But he had a lot of help.
RJ Barrett added 16 points and Brunson had 14. The bench produced 27 points, and Isaiah Hartenstein was a key factor with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks, including the game saver. The Cavaliers were down two in the final seconds and star guard Donovan Mitchell passed Randle in the lane. Hartenstein saved his shot and Evan Mobley missed it at the sound of the horn.
“It was great, monster play on his part,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Hartenstein. “He played a great game all around.”
After losing four straight games, in which their defense mostly let them down, the Knicks got back to basics. They contained the Cavaliers’ explosive guarding duo of Mitchell and Darius Garland, limiting them to 15 of 41 shots and held Cleveland (29-20) to eight second-chance points after averaging 23.8 over the course. of the previous four games. They snapped a three-game streak by giving up at least 35 points in the first quarter, holding the Cavaliers to 27.
“Obviously we’ve been down four games in a row, and the last two games before the fourth quarter, we’re in a position to win and we haven’t done enough to win the game,” Thibodeau said. “So how do you get the urgency to do that, and not get discouraged, to be more determined? “OK, we have to make it happen the way we want it to.” That’s what I liked. I liked the fight in the team, I liked the urgency that we had.
It looked like another lost night at the Garden for the Knicks (26-23) after they took an 11-point lead in the first half and trailed eight points midway through the third quarter, forcing Thibodeau to use two timeouts in the first seven minutes. of the period.
Everything he said after the second one worked. The Knicks grabbed 19 of the game’s next 25 points, turning that eight-point deficit into a five-point lead. Randle scored eight of those points, including a deep, direct 3-pointer in the closing seconds. After the shot, he bowed to the crowd and playfully talked to Cavaliers assistant coach Luke Walton, his coach with the Lakers.
“Let him know he’s too small too,” Randle said with a chuckle.
Asked about the feel of the ball coming out of his hands, Randle said: “[Like] money.”
All the Knicks were able to smile after this necessary victory. Going on a five-game losing streak against the NBA’s best Celtics in Boston on Thursday night wouldn’t have been nice. The hope is that this victory will start the Knicks in the right direction.
“The best thing about this game is it wasn’t the cleanest, it wasn’t the smoothest, but we found a way to grind it down and get a win,” Brunson said. . “It’s easy to win games when everyone clicks and the ball goes into the basket, but winning games when things aren’t going your way is a good stepping stone for us.”
. Julius Randle leads the Knicks ahead of the Cavaliers for put end skid loser