After last night’s physical overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls, the short-handed Knicks had every reason to play lazy tonight against the Cavs. Instead, the Knicks rode a combined 62 points between Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith to easily defeat the Cavaliers 101-91. The win is significant in that the Pacers dropped one tonight against the Nets, meaning New York will need just one more game to lock up the #2 seed in the East and enjoy home court through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
SOLOMON JONES: This game was notable for being the debut of newly signed 6’10 center Solomon Jones, a former Atlanta Hawks player under Mike Woodson several years back. With the team having literally no healthy bigs, Jones at best was hoped to be a presence on defense and at worst six extra fouls. Tonight, he was understandably lost on the plays and his new teammates weren’t too trusting. In his 12 minutes, Jones got dunked on by Tristan Thompson, committed two turnovers and got a rebound. Sure, it’s nothing memorable, but all we need Jones to do is buy our squad time to heal and not overwork our depleted roster. After that, he can find a cozy spot on the bench next to James White.
THIS IS THE CAVS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT: Cleveland had lost 8 of their last10 coming into this and pretty much played like a team in disarray. Kyrie Irving finished with 31 points and helped his team get withing about nine on a few separate occasions, but the game was decided early on in the fourth behind the man below…
JR SMITH REBOUNDS: JR took his frustration from the Bulls game and channeled it properly tonight. He was red-hot from the field (13-16, 31 points), and did his damage on jumpers and drives inside. He manned the offense so well in the fourth that Woody was able to keep Melo rested. Speaking of our leading scorer, Melo continued to put more room between himself and Kevin Durant for this year’s scoring title with another 30-plus effort (31 points, 14 rebounds).
COPE BOUNCES BACK: Our “big man” in Chris Copeland chipped in 12 points tonight and fared much better now that he wasn’t being swarmed by Chicago’s defense. Copeland remained an offensive threat throughout the game and did his best work inside.
QUICKEN LOANS ARENA NO LONGER A SCARY PLACE: The Knicks have now won back to back games in Cleveland after previously losing their last 10 there going back to the LeBron James era.
WIN AND REST: The Knicks haven’t had the luxury of resting Melo and JR due to all the injuries, so it’s highly important they lock up the #2 seed on Sunday against the Pacers. From there, Melo and JR can at least get shut down or have their minutes highly reduced over the next two games against Charlotte and Atlanta.