Here are some takeaways…
– Cleveland was a bit shorthanded in this one with three of their top five scorers sidelined in Darius Garland, Caris LaVert, and Jarrett Allen. Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks, on the other hand, went with their regular starting five featuring Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Mitchell Robinson.
– The Knicks, who have gotten off to slower starts in each of their first three games this season, came out flying in this one. Brunson made his first four shots from the field for nine quick points to jump out to an early eight point lead. Cleveland came storming back behind leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, though, and they cut the lead in half at the end of the first.
– New York’s second unit started the second and they were able to take advantage of the shorthanded Cavs bench. Five points each from Barrett and Isaiah Hartenstein helped push the lead up to as much as 10 midway through the quarter. Donte DiVincenzo quickly found himself back on the bench after picking up three fouls.
With the starters back on the floor, the Cavs were able to put together another run of their own. Mitchell and Isaac Okoro combined to cut the lead back down to one at the five-minute mark of the quarter. The Knicks responded back, though, and they were able to close out the first half with a 58-52 lead.
New York’s big three of Brunson (11), Barrett (15), and Randle (12) led the way before the break with all three in double digits. But the always tough Mitchell was keeping the Cavs alive with a game-high 20 points.
– Both teams got off to a sloppy start following the intermission, going on a little over a five-minute stretch with zero field goals made. The Knicks quickly settled back in and went on a 13-1 run to take their largest lead of the game (16) midway through the third. The Cavs made a little push towards the end of the frame, but five points from Immanuel Quickley and a Randle three made it 86-68 going to the fourth.
– Cleveland took back some of the momentum as they opened the final frame with a 10-4 run, but the Knicks responded after an irate Thibodeau called a timeout. Back-to-back threes from Quickley pushed his total for the night to 13 and added a nice cushion to the New York’s lead. A few minutes later both teams emptied their benches and the Knicks would hold on for their second win of the season.
Brunson finished one of his more effective performances of the season with 19 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Barrett played just seven minutes in the second half but contributed 16 of his own and Randle posted another double-double (19-10).
Robinson was 4-for-4 from the field with eight points and reeled in seven boards. Quickley was having a rough night but a big second half helped him finish with 18 points and Hartenstein enjoyed a big night of his own with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Knicks and Cavs have a quick turnaround as they face off again tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.