WHAT IT MEANS: The New York Knicks sure have a flair for theatrics. They added another dramatic come-from-behind win to their season on Monday night, coming back from a 22-point deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 102-97.
At one point in the second quarter, the Cavs were shooting 81 percent from the field, and forward Marreese Speights was 10-for-10 from the field in the first half (21 points). But the power forward went cold (only two points after halftime) like the rest of his team, thanks to the Knicks deciding to play defense in the final two quarters.
The Knicks won despite Carmelo Anthony suffering a right knee injury midway through the second quarter. Anthony did not return, but the Knicks' bench combined for 70 points. Amar'e Stoudemire scored 22 points, and played his most minutes all season (32). And he played all the way down the stretch, coming up with some big buckets.
TURNING POINTS: When the Knicks were struggling to produce points, Stoudemire helped his team go on a 10-0 run toward the end of the second quarter. The Knicks cut it to a nine-point game with just over two minutes remaining in the half, on a Raymond Felton-to-Chandler alley-oop. It was their NBA-leading 35th alley-oop connection of the season.
Then, at the start of the second half, with Anthony back in the locker room, Stoudemire scored the team's first two buckets on inside moves, played strong defense on Tristan Thompson, and grabbed a couple of boards. His inside play enabled the Knicks to control the third quarter 21-13, and got them back in the game.
Finally, Steve Novak's 3-pointer with just over nine minutes remaining in the final quarter gave the Knicks their first lead since the first quarter, 79-78. It was the long balls (seven of them) in the final 12 minutes that helped the Knicks stave off the Cavs.
DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Felton (8 points, 10 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal). The starting point guard played some of his craftiest basketball of the season, splitting half-court traps just like Irving. Twice, he cut through the Cavaliers' defense and found Stoudemire for dunks. One got the Knicks back in the game midway through the third quarter, and the second put the Knicks up 94-89 with 3:50 to play, forcing Cleveland to call a timeout.
On the defensive end down the stretch, Felton blocked an Irving fast-break layup with 2:55 remaining, and then he grabbed a key defensive rebound on a later possession. While Irving had 22 points, his counterpart made some of the biggest plays in the waning minutes.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks continue on the road Wednesday night, facing a team they've already beaten three times this season, the 23-39 Detroit Pistons. Then on Thursday, the Knicks return home for the difficult task of playing the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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