Back in business: Cavs vs Knicks, Behind the Box Score

BtBS Behind the Box Score WFNY

New York Knicks (23-35) 103
Cleveland Cavaliers (40-16) 119
[Box Score]

With NBA teams just returning to the floor for the first time since the All-Star break, and with the trade deadline passing Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Cavaliers officially kicked off their stretch run by hosting the New York Knicks.

While many proclaiming the relatively quiet trade deadline a de facto win for the Cavaliers off the court, the team followed suit in kind by securing a win on it. Rumors of a Carmelo Anthony trade to Cleveland never seemed to quite go away, so this matchup falling on trade deadline day carried a certain sense of irony to it. Regardless, Carmelo wasn’t traded and as the TNT broadcast pointed out, this fact might present a certain sense of calm to the organization and perhaps the Knicks could finally put together some good basketball in the second half of the season.

This game started off looking like there might be something to that. The Knicks, led by Courtney Lee, got off to a nice start and built an early ten point lead. Then Kyle Korver came into the game for the Cavaliers and in the blink of an eye, the deficit was wiped away. The Cavaliers ended the first quarter up one, and then in the second quarter they pushed the lead to 18 and the game was well in hand.

The Knicks tried to make it a little bit interesting in the third quarter as they cut the lead all the way down to eight points, but they just couldn’t sustain the momentum. The Cavaliers, led by some brilliant passing from LeBron James and some incredible shooting by Kyle Korver, were able to re-establish control of the game and the outcome was never in question again.

Cleveland is now 8-1 in the month of February and they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games overall. With the potential acquisition of Deron Williams as well as the eventual return of JR Smith and Kevin Love, there is some actual depth on the horizon. This season has mostly been about hanging on and surviving for the Cavaliers. Injuries, personal tragedies, and rumors have plagued the defending Champions all season, but the Cavaliers still sit in first place in the Eastern Conference and are still on the path to returning to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season. Being able to work in some depth just in time for the playoffs will be a huge relief for the Cavaliers.

Now for the numbers:

  • 18/15/13 – LeBron James just doing LeBron James things. His 18 points were a pretty loud 18 points with some absolutely ferocious drives and dunks, timely shots, and back-breaking timing. LeBron recorded yet another triple-double with 18 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds. He also added three blocks including one insane block where Courtney Lee was going in for a dunk and LeBron timed it perfectly and actually pinned the ball to the backboard. It was insane. And this game was insane for LeBron in general. It served as yet another example of how LeBron continues to dominate games and impose his will on the team without having to carry the burden of the scoring load.

  • 6 – If anyone seemed to make the most of their All-Star break and return ready to go, it had to be Tristan Thompson. Tristan played like a man possessed in this one. He had 6 offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone to set the tone. He finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds to go with his four blocked shots. He had one sequence where he made an incredible block on a Derrick Rose layup attempt, leading to a fast break the other way. On the break, Channing Frye missed a three-point shot but Tristan had run all the way back down the court and was there to clean up the miss with a loud one-handed put-back dunk. Whether it was the break or the more pronounced beard, Tristan played one hell of a game.

  • 6 of 10 – With all the focus on the trade deadline this afternoon and the collective shrugs of indifference as the deadline came and went without any major moves being made, people seemed to forget that the Cavaliers traded for Kyle Korver. Sure, it wasn’t at the deadline, but David Griffin continues to show incredible ability to make the right moves at the right times. Korver has been nothing short of incredible since joining the Cavaliers. Against the Knicks, he knocked down six of his ten three-point attempts. He finished with 20 points, second on the team only to Kyrie Irving. But beyond just his scoring, Korver also showed tremendous hustle on defense, routinely knocking away passes and doing the little things to frustrate the Knicks offense. Korver ended the game with a game-high +27 rating.
  • 100% – Courtney Lee, despite his recent bout with the flu and trade rumors, has been pretty good for the Knicks this season. Shooting a career-high, Lee was really settled nicely into his “Three and D” role on the team. Against the Cavaliers Thursday night, Lee was one of the few real bright spots for the Knicks. Lee got off to a scorching hot start knocking down all six of his first-quarter shots en route to 13 points. Lee finished with a game-high 25 points which also served as his season-high output.
  • 9 of 25 – Carmelo Anthony insisted he was happy and relieved to still be a Knick. On the TNT broadcast, they reported that Anthony spoke to his teammates and implored everyone to take a deep breath and start the second half of the season with a refreshed and renewed spirit. And then he went out and shot nine-for-25 from the floor without attempting a single free throw. Sure, he finished with 20 points and he had one stretch in the third quarter where he hit some tough shots on a few possessions in a row to bring the game closer to doubt. But it was still a woefully inefficient game and it highlights exactly why the Cavaliers were smart to stay away from trading Kevin Love for Carmelo.

Looking forward, the Cavaliers still have two more home games to close out the month of February. Then they head to the most brutal stretch of their schedule this season with just five home games in the whole month of March, compared to 12 games on the road. When they come out the other side of March, they will just have to finish up the half-month of April and then it will be playoff time.

This will be an important month for the Cavaliers as they continue to wait to get back to full strength. If they get through March in decent shape, they should be good to for the playoffs. But first they have to finish off February strong, and so now they conclude the friends-of-LeBron mini-tour when they host Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

  • Chris

    “He had one sequence where he made an incredible block on a Derrick Rose layup attempt, leading to a fast break the other way. On the break, Channing Frye missed a three-point shot but Tristan had run all the way back down the court and was there to clean up the miss with a loud one-handed put-back dunk.”

    And somewhere in the middle of all that… TT stood over Rose, **complimented** him for his efforts, and offered condolences to the former-MVP.

  • NankirPhelge

    12, 0 — Here’s a statistical oddity, according to the box score in this morning’s Plain Dealer. Both teams had 12 turnovers, and both teams scored 0 points off turnovers.

    While the symmetry is a bit unusual, the fact that neither team scored a point off turnovers is kind of amazing.

  • JNeids

    Fairly certain the replays showed MFs dropped at both ends. Tristan is all that is man.

  • JNeids

    -I think DRose got blocked at least 4 times last night, and I think at least 2 of them were actually goaltending.

    -Korver actually missed 3 straight 3s…and Lue was cracking up. But I was really impressed with KK’s defense last night. As noted, he frustrated the Knicks by jumping into passing lanes. On Lebron’s poster block of Lee (can’t believe you didn’t add multiple gifs of that, Andrew!), Korver was sprinting to get back on D the whole way.

    -I know Lebron doesn’t want to play the 4, and I don’t know how well either Bogut or Sanders would fit alongside TT (assuming we sign either, and yes I know it’s highly unlikely that either would start right away) but Lue needs to find some way to get Frye out of the starting lineup. I know he had a nice first game after Kev went down, but he’s getting exposed by opposing starting 4s and 5s. He fits much better on the second unit where he can go against bench bigs.

  • RGB

    Since Dallas traded Bogut to Phily at the deadline, that means Oakland are now allowed to be in the mix to resign him. Grrrr…

  • JNeids

    I will defer to the Tweeter once more (this is where I get all my “news” and “information”) – I don’t think there is a chance at a reunion. Sounds like the breakup was pretty bad.

    I don’t know what he has left in the tank, and I know he is both somewhat injury prone and disliked for his personal views (which might be a good enough reason to keep him out of what seems to be a fun, laid-back locker room), but I wouldn’t mind him being our Perkins. I would LOVE to see him lay out Curry or get into it with Zaza or get under Draymond’s skin.

  • Harv

    yeah, Korver is a surprisingly clever defender in passing lanes and in heavy traffic. He doesn’t move his 35 year old feet so well but he anticipates certain things that imply he won’t have to be removed in all crucial playoff possessions. This is what they hoped to get from Dunleavy. Much respect to Griffin for maneuvering a second bite at the veteran outside marksman apple, and managing to land the superior one with Take 2.

  • architrance

    He’s a good passing big man, an illegal screen extraordinaire and should have some good incite into The Enemy. I’d take that any day. What are his personal views?? I think I remember him saying something about not wanting to raise his kids in an “NBA lifestyle” but that was more about him being a blue collar dude and not wanting his future kids to be entitled d-bags. By all accounts he’s a fun laid back Aussie. You could do a lot worse with your 10th man in a playoff rotation.

  • Harv

    A few:

    – Lue needs to leave the second unit in, even if they completely blow a big lead, even if they blow a game. Even if LeBron is barking to run back in and leave fresh scent on the hydrants. The only way they learn to step on necks is to be forced to do it. When they decide that an opponent is inferior they decide to entertain. After one block Tristan was gloating to the crowd … while the loose ball bounced behind him and the Knicks grabbed it, Lue can stop this, or at least tamp it down. Let them lose.

    – Korver is now both catching/shooting and sniping off his usual curls. Well, that took all of 3 weeks to make it look like he’s been here since August. If J.R. has time to get his stroke back – not a sure thing given it still wasn’t fully back when he got hurt – playoff opponents are facing some nightmare lineups, every bit as lethal as GS. The type that can morph a 3 point lead to 14 in a blink.

    – Hard to watch Derrick Rose. Noah is out again and a shell when he does play. Carmelo wears the look of a guy in the middle of a 12-14 year sentence holding out his lunch tray. This is what happens when you assume a hall of fame coach can run an org, or that a cap guy can be a GM. And every year Browns fans sputter about having one of their on-field heroes run the org. Past years it was Bernie, now it’s Peyton. Every year the myth of the Magic Man, the One Who Will End the Misery, not because he’s demonstrated that particular skill set but because he’s so, so smart.

  • Chris

    I’m so happy you’re a part of “Team Golden-State-isn’t-a-geographical-location”.

  • The turnovers are correct, but the points off are not. The Knicks had 19 points off turnovers, the Cavs had 13.

  • “Carmelo wears the look of a guy in the middle of a 12-14 sentence holding out his lunch tray.”

    So much this. It’s jarring how blank Carmelo’s body language is. He looks like someone who has just completely had the joy of basketball sucked out of him.

  • RGB

    Something tells me, Korver is really, REALLY enjoying playing with LBJ and his merry men.
    A happy sniper is a lethal sniper.

  • scripty

    Bogut, at this point, is way better than what Perkins was. Bogut has a ton of value as an interior defender did really well helping guards in Pick and Roll despite his lumbering persona.

    In the myopia of “does he help combat the GSW smallball lineup?” not entirely, but along way he would bring value to any NBA team.

    As we learned last year, there’s value in back end roster guys and toughness, and helping ensure we sweep those first few rounds to stay fresh would be great

  • Harv

    and not like Carmelo is blameless. He wanted all the years/money on his contracts, he wanted the biggest market. All the while knowing just as well as his draft classmates who the owner is.

  • JM85

    I can’t wait til June. The Finals will be so good.

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  • NankirPhelge

    Aha! When I read that 12-0 stat line in the PD, it did seem fishy. Thanks, Andrew.

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