Knicks rally after Anthony leaves with knee injury
CLEVELAND -- The turning point for the New York Knicks came after they lost their best player.
Forward Carmelo Anthony, who was tied for the NBA lead in scoring, was knocked out of Monday night's game with a knee injury with 6:42 left in the second quarter.
That ignited the Knicks, who held off the Cavaliers 102-97 before an announced crowd of 19,784 at Quicken Loans Arena.
"Guys were playing gritty," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "After we lost (Anthony), guys really started to fight. Right before the half, we were able to get back into it."
Power forward Amar'e Stoudemire took over inside for the Knicks and finished with a team-high 22 points and six rebounds.
"He was fantastic," Woodson said.
The Cavs (20-40) led by 22 points sy 52-30 when Anthony exited the game. From that point on, they outscored the Cavs 72-45.
Anthony stumbled on the court, got up, walked directly to the locker room and never returned.
"He went out, they regrouped and maybe we exhaled," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "They have so many veterans for us to think that way."
Still, the Cavs were clinging to a 74-70 lead after three quarters. It was bombs away for the Knicks in the fourth quarter. They made 7 of 11 from behind the arc and outscored the Cavs 32-23 in the quarter.
"They live and die with (3-pointers)," Scott said.
The Knicks finished 12 of 30 from 3-point range.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler showed why he's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He blocked a potential tying 3-point attempt by Cavs guard Kyrie Irving with 0.9 of a second remaining. The Knicks were clinging to a 100-97 lead at the time.
"He is one of the better defensive centers in this league," Scott said. "He's a presence down there. But I thought we stopped attacking."
Irving was asked if he thought he was fouled on the play and responded, "It doesn't matter now."
Chandler did his homework on the Cavs' scouting report.
"I knew they were going to him," he said. "I knew if I switched on him, I would force him to drive. He went for the 3-point shot and I kind of baited him into shooting where I could still get to the shot."
Irving finished with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists. He had missed the previous three games with a hyperextended right knee.
"It's a little sore right now, but I knew that going in," he said. "Tomorrow, I'll just do the necessary things I need to do and get treatment."
The Knicks (36-21) snapped a 10-game losing streak at The Q. Their last win in Cleveland was on Nov. 29, 2006.
New York's reserves outscored the Cavs' bench 70-21. Two of the Cavs' top reserves -- center Marreese Speights and shooting guard Wayne Ellington - were pressed into the starting lineup. Speights paced the Cavs with a season-high 23 points and eight rebounds. Fifteen of his points came in the first quarter. He missed all four of his shots from the field in the second half.
Scott said the Cavs missed center Tyler Zeller and shooting guard Dion Waiters, who were held out of the game because of sickness. Waiters has been on a tear and was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February.
The Cavs missed the 7-foot Zeller's size. They were forced to play Luke Walton for 29 minutes and he didn't get a rebound. However, he did contribute a career-high 12 assists.
The Cavs were shooting 81.4 percent from the field at one point in the second quarter.
By halftime, their lead grew to 61-49 and they were still shooting 68.4 percent from the floor.
"I thought our guys played extremely hard in the first half," Scott said. "The effort was great. It's unfortunate we didn't do some of the things we needed to do in the second half. We relaxed."
Things unraveled in the third quarter when the Knicks scored 10 straight points to start the second half. The Cavs made just one of their first 11 shots from the field and didn't make a basket in the first 6:41.
Swingman J.R. Smith added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Knicks. forward Steve Novak had 15 points and guard Jason Kidd 12. None of the Knicks' starters reached double figures.
Power forward Tristan Thompson finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the Cavs. Swingman C.J. Miles had 11 points.
Anthony came into the game tied for the NBA lead in scoring at 28.6 per game. He had six points and one rebound in 14 minutes.
"They got into a groove," Irving said. "With or without Carmelo, they're still a good team. They have a lot of good veterans on that team and they did a good job closing out the game."
NOTES: Irving missed the previous three games with a hyperextended right knee. "I landed awkwardly in practice," he said. "It was a deep bruise. When I was playing in Orlando and Miami, I could feel it, but I tried to play through it. It was limiting my ability to go to the basket and have confidence jumping off my right leg." He said he's not all the way back. "I wouldn't call it 100 percent yet, but close to it," Irving said. ... Zeller and Waiters went to the emergency room with stomach pain and vomiting. "They have some type of virus," Scott said. "They were throwing up." Scott decided to start Ellington at shooting guard and Speights at center. "They are next in line, obviously," Scott said.
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