Rapid Reaction: Knicks 103, Cavaliers 102

December, 15, 2012
12/15/12
10:15
PM ET
WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks didn't have Carmelo Anthony on Saturday night. But they didn't really need him.

All they needed was Cleveland's Anderson Varejao on the free-throw line with the game in the balance.

With the Cavs down one and one second to play in regulation, Varejao missed the second of his two free-throw attempts to give the Knicks the win and ruin Kryie Irving's brilliant 41-point night.

New York (18-5) has won eight of nine and is 10-0 at home.

Anthony missed the game with a sprained right ankle, but the Knicks had several other players step in his place to earn the win.

CLUTCH NIGHT FOR KIDD & CHANDLER: Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler took care of business in the second half against Cleveland.

Kidd had nine points, six rebounds and eight assists and Chandler finished with 23 points on 9-for-10 shooting and had 10 rebounds. Chandler had 21 second-half points.

Once again, Kidd didn't put up huge numbers (he shot 3-for-14 from the field), but made winning plays when the Knicks needed them most.

With the Knicks up five early in the fourth, he found Chandler for a lay up and an alley oop on successive possessions to put the Knicks up nine.

He also hit two big threes in the quarter, the second of which put the Knicks up 10 with 8:35 to go.

Then, with the Knicks up two, he found a cutting Chandler, who drew a foul and knocked down two free throws to give the Knicks a four-point lead with 40 seconds to play.

It looked like it would seal the win for the Knicks, but Irving put a scare into the team late in the game.

THE MASKED MAN: Irving, a West Orange native and former No. 1 pick, finished with a career-high 41 points and was a pain for the Knicks all night.

He had seven straight points for Cleveland in the fourth quarter to cut the Knicks' 90-80 lead to 90-87 with 3:50 to play.

He then hit a circus layup with 0:55 to go to cut the Knick lead to two before Kidd found Chandler who drew the foul and hit the free-throws to put the Knicks up five.

But Irving wasn't done. He hit two threes in the final 27 seconds of the game to keep the Cavs within striking distance and knocked down two free throws with 10 seconds to play to cut the Knicks' lead to one.

Wearing a black mask to protect a fractured jaw, Irving had 16 points in a brilliant fourth quarter.

COPELAND NIGHT: Rookie Chris Copeland started at power forward in place of Anthony and had eight points in the first quarter on two jumpers, a three-pointer and a free-throw. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 2-for-3 from behind the arc.

Ray Felton had 22 points on 9-for-20 shooting and handed out seven assists and turned it over just once.

J.R. Smith had a poor shooting night (15 points on 6-for-20 shooting) but added four assists and two steals, the second of which came on C.J. Miles with the Cavs down and 31 seconds to play.

CRAFTY PRIGIONI: Oh, that Pablo Prigioni. Twice, Prigioni snuck in on an unsuspecting Cavs guard and got his hands on an inbounds pass. Both times, it led to a Cleveland turnover. It's a play Prigioni's pulled off several times this season.

The Knicks had just nine turnovers on the night.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will spend Sunday gearing up for their matchup against the Houston Rockets and Jeremy Lin. Lin will return to the Garden for the first time since last season, when he came off the end of the Knicks bench to lead the team to seven straight wins and nearly single handedly save the season, becoming an international phenomenon in the process.

The Knicks lost by 28 the first time they faced Lin and the Rockets in Houston. James Harden had 33 and Chandler Parsons had 31 that night.

It's unclear if Anthony will play Monday due to a left ankle sprain, but the guess here is that he gives it a go against Lin and the Rockets.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2