The New York Knicks continued their strong play of late with a 117-86 trouncing of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night that extended their winning streak to four. The Knickerbockers exhibited the type of team play that had many talking about the team competing with the Miami Heat for the conference title and making a strong run in the playoffs. While this season has been far what any anticipated, this victory comes with high hopes for the future, knowing what the team is really capable of.
In the first quarter, the Cavaliers gave up 38 points to the Knicks while Melo and Co. seemingly got every shot they wanted. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith caught fire early and stayed hot for the entire quarter. On the flip side, Cleveland look disjointed, as Kyrie Irving and company struggled get open looks as the quarter went on and they finished the first quarter with 21 points. And by the half, the Knicks were up by 24 and, based on their body language, Cleveland had given up on any hope of a comeback.
In all reality, the outcome of this game was decided in the first half. The Cavaliers were able to outscore the Knicks 29-21 in the third quarter but they were subsequently outscored by 15 in the final period, mostly due to the play of rookie two-guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who finished 29 points off the bench. Anthony scored 18 in the first quarter, only two off his total from his franchise-record, 62-point game Friday night. But he sat nearly half of the second quarter to fall well off the pace, as he had 37 points at halftime that night.
This four-game winning streak comes at the perfect time for the Knicks. It leaves them just a half game out of the eighth spot in the conference. They will have their work cut out for them before All-Star weekend, however, as they play the Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder before the break in two weeks. They should have a fair amount of confidence going into this stretch, though. The Knicks have won their last four games by an average of 23.3 points and they’re going to need every bit of offensive power to battle against arguably the league’s three best teams.