Cavs Fall to Knicks in Game Three, Drop Both in New York
The Cavaliers departed for New York last week looking to build off a blowout victory. They return home with their backs against the wall.
After falling in ugly fashion on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the Wine & Gold were bitten on Sunday by a glaring issue from earlier in the series – offensive rebounding – and couldn’t overcome a rough night from their leading scorer, dropping the 102-93 decision to fall behind, 3-1, in the best-of-seven First Round series against the Knicks.
As they did in Game 1, the Knicks dominated Cleveland on the offensive glass – 17-7 – and on the boards overall – 47-33 – stifling the Cavaliers second-half surge and pulling away for the win. The Wine and Gold actually out-shot New York from the floor, but giving a postseason foe 10 extra possessions proved again to be recipe for disaster.
All-Star guard and New York native Donovan Mitchell has been excellent for the Cavaliers all season long, but he picked the wrong day to have one of his worst games of the year – netting just 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting, missing all four three-pointers he attempted and committing six of Cleveland’s 13 turnovers on the afternoon.
The Cavs struggled offensively again in the first half and trailed by nine at the break, 54-45. But Darius Garland – who was saddled with three fouls in the first half – came out on fire in the second, scoring eight quick points himself and assisting on three other field goals by Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
Overall, Cleveland would hit its first seven shots of the second half – tying the contest at 59-apiece and taking its first lead of the night, 63-61, on Allen’s dunk off a feed from Garland midway through the third period.
Both teams went back and forth the rest of the quarter, but Jalen Brunson drilled a three-pointer with six seconds to play in the period that gave New York a two-point edge after three.
The Cavs would tie the game once more – at 75-apiece early in the fourth on a Cedi Osman free throw. But R.J. Barrett’s layup on the very next possession gave the Knicks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish – separating down the stretch and pulling away for the win, holding Cleveland under the century mark for the third time through the series’ first four games.
Garland bounced back after struggling in Friday’s loss – leading the Cavaliers with 23 points and both teams with 10 assists, going 9-for-16 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from deep and 3-of-3 from the stripe.
Caris LeVert, getting his second straight start in the series, followed up with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds – going 4-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line, adding a pair of assists, a steal and a block.
Jarrett Allen finished with 14 points of his own on 7-of-11 shooting, but like the rest of the squad, got muscled on the boards, finishing with four rebounds and a steal in Sunday’s loss.
Evan Mobley chipped in with 12 points, going 5-of-8 from the floor, adding seven boards, three assists and a pair of rejections before fouling out late in the fourth.
Cedi Osman was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – and their only reserve – finishing with 10 points, five boards and a pair of assists in 21 minutes of work off the bench.
New York’s Jalen Brunson was once again a thorn in Cleveland’s side – leading both teams with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting, including 5-of-9 from long-distance, adding six boards and six assists in the victory. After struggling to start the series, R.J. Barrett again found his rhythm – following up with 26 points, going 9-for-18 from the floor.
And as badly as Brunson burned Cleveland on Sunday, center Mitchell Robinson was just as lethal – doubling-up with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, going 5-of-8 from the floor to go with a pair of blocks.