The Cavaliers played the Knicks tonight in Cleveland. This game featured two of the dumbest teams in the league, competing for the same dumb playoff spot in this dumb Eastern Conference. The game looked like it was going to feature a ton of basketball that may or may not be less than sober. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
Spencer Hawes led the Cavs with 11 points on 4-5 shooting. The two teams combined to shoot 38.2 percent from the floor. Melo went 1-7 from the field. The Cavs ended the quarter with a Jack/Waiters/Gee/Bennett Varejao atrocity, with Gee guarding Melo.
This decision followed Spencer Hawes guarding Iman Shumpert by design. The Knicks ended the quarter by giving up a wide-open Jack drive resulting in a foul, then ran Pablo Prigioni on a full-court post pattern, which he blew the layup on. In all, the Cavs scored 19 points on the horrid Knicks defense and were outrebounded 16-8.
Iman Shumpert guarded Tristan Thompson for stretches, again by design. Follow this with Jeremy Tyler guarding Dion (resulted from a switch). Luol Deng passed up an open Kyrie Irving to drive, get the ball stripped, and then gave up a Melo three on the other end. Dion lost track of Melo on consecutive trips, biting on a pump fake and flying about 20 feet on one, and giving up a Melo three on the next one. Hawes attempted and somehow made a turnaround three at the top of the break. Hawes PU3ITs (yes, multiple, and yes, he made all of them). J.R. Smith threw a fast break pass off the backboard to Amar’e Stoudemire to put the Knicks off 15. Kyrie and Amar’e went into the half with 13 points each. Luckily the Cavs only got outrebounded by two this time!
The Cavs began with a bonkers 9-2 run, led by Irving,Jack and an excellent defensive effort. A ridiculous run featuring essentially a Hawes arm-punt of a cross-court pass that was picked off by Felton, Irving stripping Felton, a missed Thompson dunk, and the ball getting stuck between the rim and backboard at the other end. Back-to-back Deng threes. Shump dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds on an ISO. Deng didn’t attempt a shot within 22 feet of the basket. Jack had 12 points after three, which seems impossible. Related, the Cavs went into the fourth quarter down one.
Amar’e swatted a Jarrett Jack lay-up into the third row. Fred McLeod (not ironically, mind you) said “J.R. Smith, reigning 6th Man of the Year.” The drunkness spilled over to the fans:
Delonte West would shut down J.R. Smith right now. Put a jersey on him.
— Thomas Pestak (@tompestak) March 9, 2014
Hawes attempted to spin move on Shumpert and got stuffed by Melo. Gee played meaningful 4th quarter minutes. Hawes used a successful behind-the-back spin move to shake Pablo Prigioni in transition. The Cavs defensive rotations on a Felton/Melo PNR resulted in Chandler dunking on Jarrett Jack’s face. Felton beat Kyrie to the paint on consecutive PNR looks. Finally, Jarrett Jack airballed a three on the final Cavs possession. The Knicks pulled away late, as J.R. Smith finished with 17 points and hit 5 threes, Melo shot 10-23 but had 26 to lead the Knicks, Luol Deng had another fabulous 3-12 shooting night, the Cavs gave up 13 offensive rebounds, and the Cavs walked out of a must-win game against a team as bad as they are with a 10-point loss.
Let’s never speak of this again.