Let’s start by mentioning the United Way links that were posted before the game. Look past this recap for that; help if you can.
Wow, I have recapped some amazing losses lately. First the Miami game; now tonight. Again, on the road, certainly fatigued, Cleveland gave one of the East’s best all they could handle. I would love to see wins, but this year, in some of these circumstances, it is fun to see our young group go toe-to-toe with heavyweights.
Tonight’s tilt featured a hot, undefeated-at-home Knicks team against an increasingly beat-up & worn-down Cavalier squad. Kyrie wore a black mask to protect his broken jaw, but in honor of New York City and theater, perhaps he should have worn white. Carmelo also sat, due to an ankle injury. Twenty-eight year old rookie Chris Copeland started in his place.
Cleveland started hot, behind perhaps Tristan’s best offensive quarter of the season. He posted & went baseline for a dunk, drove from thirty-feet for a layup, kept a possession alive with a tip, and netted a few assisted lay-ins. He did not make any three-pointers though (wink, wink). Kyrie pitched in seven, and the Cavs cruised to a 28 to 20 lead. Unfortunately, the Knicks scored seven unanswered to close the gap.
Early in the second, CJ Miles drained a few deep threes; the play-by-play refers to one as a 29-footer. I believe it. Kyrie continued attacking the New York defense, and his thirteenth & fourteenth points tied the game as the half neared a close. Unfortunately, Steve Novak’s fourth triple pulled NYC ahead 48 to 45 at intermission. New York assisted on 14 of their 18 field goals, compared to 6 of 19 for Cleveland.
The third stanza featured a series of Knick mini-runs followed by Cleveland recoveries. Kyrie continued his onslaught of stroked-threes, nifty pull-ups, and smooth lay-ins. His twelve points could not overcome an ongoing Tyson Chandler dunk-fest though; New York’s Center piled up thirteen points for the quarter, behind a barrage of pick & roll finishes and alley-oop dunks. The Gotham hosts lead 73 to 78.
The fourth quarter was crazy. Cleveland fell behind by double-digits twice, behind a parade of New York threes and Tyson Chandler dominance. Then, Kyrie did his, “I’m the baddest man alive” thing; seventeen points and two assists in five minutes…THAT MAN WAS BALLING OUT OF CONTROL!!! He got to the rack, he found open cutters, then BAM!! BACK TO BACK THREE POINTERS to cut the Knicks lead to two. The Knicks kept making their clutch free throws, but with ten seconds to go, Steve Novak missed…the Cavs rebounded…the Knick defense collapsed on Kyrie…he found a cutting Varejao…Andy’s fouled; two shots to tie with one second to go!!
Well, you know what happened next. Varejao missed the second free throw. It was a bummer; it was exhilarating. Some of these losses will turn to wins soon.
A few notes:
Kyrie scored 41, in a highlight packed career-best. Since his return from injury, he looks more engaged on defense also; perhaps some time for reflection and video watching proved beneficial. When he scores 42, it will be in a win. I can feel it.
C.J. Miles notched 17, leaving his average at 20 points per game over the last five.
Tyler Zeller scored 8 points to go with 6 boards on 4 of 5 shooting in 15 minutes. He flashed his soft touch around the basket and generally looked competent on the boards. Two more turnovers tonight though, via careless lazy-pass rookie mistakes.
Another fourth game in five nights, which will be followed by two days off, then another four-in-five. The season starts with 29 games in 54 days, including seventeen roadies. That is nearly four games per week, actually the exact frequency of the recent strike-shortened gauntlet. They will have played away from Cleveland, on average, every three days. A relaxing holiday respite, featuring three games in ten days, kicks off 53 in 116. The twenty-four road games after Christmas amount to one every five days. 2013 Cav basketball looks much more promising than their 2012.
As the unofficial tracker of Andy’s progression up the franchise leader-boards; his two offensive rebounds move him past Brad Daugherty to fourth. With eight total rebounds, he did not reach double-digits, which shocks nowadays. Tyson Chandler tipped approximately fourteen-thousand loose-balls to his backcourt.
Daniel Gibson is shooting 28% from the field in the month of December.
I am somewhat surprised that it took Steve Novak until last year to find a place in the NBA. That shot is soooo fast and accurate, surely there were more than 300 minutes per season that could have been available to him. He appears pretty capable spotted up, off screens, or even dribbling once then firing. Of 450 attempts from deep in the last three seasons, he converts over 47%, shooting once every four minutes. That’s just stupid.
For two straight seasons, Tyson Chandler paced the league in True Shooting Percentage. Last year, he posted approximately the best mark in the history of forever, this season is even higher, and tonight he tallied 88%. That man finishes pick-and-rolls and alley-oops. He’s a beast.