Carmelo Anthony usually enjoys playing against his good friend LeBron James. But Saturday night wasn’t one of those nights.
It was the type of game that could increase Anthony’s desire to one day want to play with James.
Anthony looked frustrated throughout the game. He pushed Kevin Love in the first half and drew a technical foul in the fourth quarter. James, meanwhile, did it all.
James had a triple-double and had Madison Square Garden buzzing with a driving dunk over Lou Amundson and Kristaps Porzingis. James had a couple of other physical drives to the basket with Knicks draped all over him that showed how strong he is.
The Cavaliers’ superstar scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished off 10 assists to lead the Cleveland to a 107-93 victory over the Knicks that halted their modest two-game winning streak. The Cavaliers (52-32) took control in the first quarter and never really threatened.
The Knicks (30-44) trailed by 25 points and were down double-figures the last 38:07 of the game. Their season is almost over. They have eight games left and their tragic number to be eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight year is down to one
Anthony started 2-for-12, missed some easy ones inside and had his shot blocked a couple times. He bounced back in the second half, scoring 23 of his 28 points. Porzingis finished with 19.
Love had 28 and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who rested Kyrie Irving.
The Knicks came into this game feeling good about themselves after back-to-back victories over Chicago, marking their first winning streak since Jan 18 and 20 under former coach Derek Fisher.
“It’s broadened their perspective of how good they can possibly be,” interim coach Kurt Rambis said before the game. “
The Knicks came crashing to earth Saturday night. Six of the Cavaliers’ first nine field goals were three-pointers. They scored 14 consecutive points over a 3:16 stretch between the first and second quarters to open up a 34-15 lead just 48 seconds in the period.
The Cavaliers extended to 56-32 after a Love tip-in at the halftime buzzer. Cleveland appeared to be rolling, but the Knicks charged back to get within 99-89 with 4:52 left in the fourth. But they drew no closer.
In a Bleacher Report article that was posted this week, James was quoted as saying he hopes to play with his good friends Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul before their careers end.
Anthony didn’t dismiss it, saying, “I’ll take a pay cut if it happens.” Anthony also said if it happened it wouldn’t be in New York.
“I think by that time you want to go somewhere warm,” Anthony said.
Cleveland is warm in late spring and the summer. The defending Eastern Conference-champion Cavaliers still could be playing by then for the second consecutive season.
But James has tweeted some cryptic things in recent weeks and unfollowed the Cavaliers on Twitter, fueling theories that he’s unhappy with his teammates and the organization. He also voiced some frustration after the Cavaliers lost to the Nets Thursday. But he sung a different tune Saturday, saying he believes they’re good enough to win it all.
“I feel like we’re ready to make a championship run,” James said. “I’m confident in this team and I know we can make a championship run and that’s all you can ask for.
“I believe in what we have. And I know we can win a championship with the group that we have. And I’m confident in my abilities to lead this group and everything else is smoke and mirrors and doesn’t really matter to me.”
James, who has played in the Finals the last five years, said the Cavaliers have to use the remaining nine games to sharpen up and get ready for the playoffs.
“My only thought now and my preparation is getting these guys prepared to make a long run in the postseason,” James said. “We can get better but my whole mindset is getting these guys ready for the long run. And I mean we have enough, I know we have enough. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”