NEW YORK — This time against the Knicks, LeBron James would not be denied of a win.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward scored five straight points late in the game, securing Cleveland’s 90-87 over New York Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
James had eight turnovers when the Knicks ruined his first game back in Cleveland with a 95-90 victory on Oct. 30. But in round two, James, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, played the role of distributor, dishing out 12 assists while scoring 19 points.
He has scored in double figures in 589 straight games, the third-longest streak in league history, yet he wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance.
“I felt out of rhythm,” James admitted. “I felt I didn’t play a great game. I wasn’t as aggressive as I wanted to be.
“But obviously we got the win and that’s the most important thing.”
Guard Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 37 points to lead Cleveland (10-7), who won for a season-best five straight games.
The Knicks (4-16) lost their sixth game and 15 of their last 17. It’s the worst start in franchise history for the Knicks.
Irving was 12-of-18 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. He also contributed two steal in 44 minutes.
New York received 20 points from guard Tim Hardaway Jr., forward Amar’e Stoudemire added 18 points and forward Quincy Acy scored a career-high 15.
“Quincy did a good job of competing,” said Knicks coach Derek Fisher. “He put a great effort out there on both ends of the floor.”
Carmelo Anthony missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game with six seconds and guard Jose Calderon’s made 3-pointer was ruled it went in after the buzzer.
Stoudemire scored on a layup to pull the Knicks to within 88-87 with 3:05 remaining to play, but New York missed six straight shots until a baseline layup from Irving made it 90-87 with 10 seconds to play.
“Coach (David Blatt) did a great job of drawing up the play and my teammates trust me enough to clear out one side and give me a chance to get the best shot possible for our team and make a play,” said Irving of his critical layup.
New York held the lead for most of the fourth quarter before a 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk from James gave Cleveland an 88-85 lead with 3:25 left to play. The Knicks led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter.
A 9-2 run at the end of the third quarter provided New York with a 73-68 lead. Knicks guard Shane Larkin drilled a 3-pointer, Stoudemire scored twice and Hardaway scored on a layup.
A layup from James with 3:20 left in the third tied it at 64, then Irving scored on a runner at the 2:20 mark for a 66-64 Cavaliers lead. It marked Cleveland’s first lead since early in the second quarter.
Irving scored 17 of his 23 first-half points in the second quarter, but New York still held onto a 53-50 advantage.
The Cavs cut the Knicks lead to 46-41, but a 3-pointer from guard Jose Calderon and a breakaway dunk by Anthony moved the Knicks lead to 51-41 with 1:51 left in the half.
The Knicks started gelling as the second quarter started. They opened on a 13-2 run to move ahead 37-27 with 7:40 left in the quarter. Hardaway scored 11 of those points.
Love and Irving scored six points apiece when the Cavaliers grabbed a 25-24 first-quarter lead. Anthony sat the last four minutes of the quarter with two fouls after scoring five points. He made only two of his five shots in the quarter.
NOTES: Cavaliers F Mike Miller left the game against the New York Knicks with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms. He was evaluated further following the game and has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. He will remain in New York overnight for further examination. His status will be updated as appropriate. … Cleveland G Kyrie Irving Irving has scored 20 or more points in 10 straight games against the Knicks. … New York employed their 11th different starting lineup in 20 games. C Amar’e Stoudemire replaced Samuel Dalembert, who had started every game at the position this season. … Knicks F Carmelo Anthony is the sixth youngest player in league history to score 20,000 points. Cleveland F LeBron James is the youngest at 28 years, 17 days. … Cleveland assigned C Alex Kirk to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League. … LeBron James has accumulated the most Player of the Week selections (47) and Player of the Month (27) selections in league history. … Knicks G J.R. Smith was back after missing the last game and almost all the previous one with flu-like symptoms. … The Knicks have played 13 games decided by seven points or fewer. They have lost 10 of them. … Both teams combined for 38 turnovers. … LeBron James recorded the 274th double-double of his career.
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