NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – Coming into Monday night’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks‘ confidence was at a season high. New York had won four of their last five games, and had every right to think that they would make it two straight wins over the Cavs this season. For three quarters, the Knicks looked like they would be making a statement that this young team is for real. The ball movement was electric, and sent chills into Knick fans seated all around Madison Square Garden.
New York had at one point built a 23 point advantage, over a sleepwalking Cleveland team. However, it just seemed like somewhere Lebron James and the Cavs would eventually turn it on. Unfortunately for New York, that time was the 4th quarter as James helped Cleveland storm all the way back. James then hit a step back three pointer in the final seconds, to deliver a 104-101 win over New York.
Here are two of the biggest takeaways from the Knicks’ fourth quarter meltdown:
- In the final quarter, the Knicks did what young teams tend to do. They played to hold the lead they had built, rather than keep their foot on the gas pedal. New York struggled to keep James in front of them on defense, which was a recipe for the Cleveland comeback. James would go on to tally eight assists in the fourth quarter, and it seemed like most were cashed in beyond the arc. Cleveland shot a whopping 9 for 17 from downtown in the 4th quarter, led by Kyle Korver. Korver hit five three pointers, and tallied 19 points in the 4th quarter. The Cavs outscored the Knicks 43-25 in the 4th quarter, which turned out to be the deciding factor. You just can’t have a 43 point defensive lapse in the 4th quarter, and expect to beat good NBA teams.
- The same ball movement that helped get the Knicks up big, seemed to be lost in the 4th quarter. New York had just four assists in the 4th quarter, and showed flashes of when Carmelo Anthony used to don the blue and orange. The Knicks seemed heavily focused on clearing out, and force feeding Kristaps Porzingis. Isolation basketball can only take you so far, especially when Porzingis shoots 7 for 21 (20 points) on the night. Tim Hardaway Jr. (28 points) had a strong outing, but outside of Porzingis and Hardaway Jr. no one stepped up in the 4th. Porzingis and Hardaway Jr. accounted for 18 of the Knicks 25 points in the 4th quarter. Only seven points from your supporting cast when it counts, will not cut it if this team has playoff aspirations.
Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for PureSportsNY.com. Follow him on Twitter @BHO732
(Featured Photo Credit: Barry Holmes/PureSportsNY)