Cleveland Cavaliers secure another hard-fought win
The Cleveland Cavaliers made it two straight victories in the three-game homestand following a 95-93 scare over the New York Knicks. Once again, the Cavs had to rely on their defensive chops in the final stretches to stave off the visiting team and secure the win.
Just like in their previous match against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavaliers had threatened to pull away in the third quarter before the road team made a last-ditch push in the final period. The Knicks gave Cleveland a scare by coming back from as much as 15 down to tie the game with a minute and a half remaining.
Following a clutch three from Darius Garland that put the Cavs up by three, New York pulled closer with two free throws and even had two attempts to win the game. Fortunately for Cleveland, they were able to close the door with solid defensive play down the stretch, an identity they have been cultivating this entire season.
Garland struggled to find his shot against the Knicks, but was still the main engine running the offense and finished with another double-double of 13 markers and 12 assists. In the absence of big man Jarrett Allen (illness), rookie Evan Mobley tallied 15 points and 12 boards, while Dean Wade put in 13 in his return to the starting lineup.
Cavs look to end the homestand with another victory
However, it was Kevin Love who starred for Cleveland after erupting in the crucial third quarter that gave the Cavs a hefty cushion that save them when they went cold in the fourth period. He came up with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in another wire-to-wire Cavaliers victory.
Both the veteran Love and Wade stepped up with Allen and Lauri Markkanen (ankle) being out, especially on the offensive end. And despite losing one of their top defensive anchors in the paint, Cleveland had done just enough to stifle New York’s bigs.
The buy-in we are seeing from the former five-time NBA All-Star Love has been tremendous for Cleveland. Apart from the offensive boost he provides coming off the bench, his leadership both on and off the floor had been vital to the Cavs’ renaissance.
The Cleveland Cavaliers remain in solo fifth in the East with a 29-19 record, just 1.5 games behind the first-place Miami Heat team in a suffocatingly competitive conference. Next up are the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks, who will visit the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on January 26.