Photo by Oren Vourman
Recently acquired forward Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks declared Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers “a payback game, saying the loss a week ago “left a bitter taste in my mouth. And the team’s mouth. And we remember that. We hold grudges.” When asked about the comments pre-game, Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni said “I hope they can back it up.” Unfortunately, the Knicks were unable to back it up, and suffered perhaps their worse loss at home of the year, 119-115 to the team with the worst record in the National Basketball Association.
The Knicks started the game fast, taking a 22-10 lead with 6:19 left in the first quarter on a lay up by Landry Fields, but the Cavaliers quickly rebounded, outscoring the Knicks by the same margin to tie it at 32 at the end of the first quarter. The Knicks would take another 12-point lead, 104-92, on two free throws from Shelden Williams with 6:58 left in the game, but a 27-11 run to end the game, sparked by two clutch 3-pointers by Baron Davis and one by Anthony Parker, led the Cavaliers to victory. Two crucial charging calls were called on Anthony in the final 1:32 of the game, one on a pass to Shawne Williams for a three-pointer he hit, and one with 1.8 seconds left on a play that could have sent Anthony to the free throw line to tie the game.
“I guess it was an offensive call, he called it. I saw a clear path” Anthony said of the offensive foul with 1:8 seconds left in the game. Of the previous charge, Anthony said “he stepped in, took a charge. I thought I made a good play by looking at Shawne Williams. Was it a charge? Did he slide underneath? That’s not for me to say.”
“They were doing a good job of help-side defense all night” Amar’e Stoudemire said about the charge, also stating he didn’t have a good view of the play.
“We should have put them away earlier. A lot of times when you don’t close games out, you are at the mercy of other players, referees, or bad luck. We did not have the consistency or tenacity at the end” D’Antoni said after the game.
Samardo Samuels, who drew the charges, said of the final play “I was watching the play the whole time. I was guarding Jared Jeffries so it kind of allowed me to roam around and help. I saw him fumble the ball a little bit so I know that messed him up, so he had to do something real quick. His whole mind state was to get to the rim and it was a perfect opportunity to pull over and take the charge at that point.”
“We played great defense down the stretch and that gave us an opportunity to get back into the ball game” Baron Davis said. “It’s always great to win at the Garden. This victory is very sweet.”
Stoudemire led the Knicks with a season-high tying 41 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Anthony added 29 points and 5 rebounds. Landry Fields scored 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, while Toney Douglas scored 11 points, dished out 5 assists and pulled down 5 rebounds.
J.J. Hickson led the Cavaliers with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Samuels added 15 points and 6 rebounds. Parker finished with 13 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Ramon Sessions scored 11 and dished out 6 assists. Davis scored 18 points and handed out 5 assists, and Christian Eyenga scored 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds, both off the bench. Luke Harangody also scored 18 points, also off the bench.
Madison Square Garden had a sellout of 19,763 that included Jessica Alba, Tracy Morgan, Jon Stewart, Al Roker, and The Altman Brothers Band.
The Knicks travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks Sunday at 6:30pm.