Game 25: Cavs at Knicks
Madison Square Garden
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: The "Dark Knight" was almost unstoppable. Kyrie Irving, wearing a black mask, resembled Isiah Thomas on Saturday.
He scored a career-high 41 points. He was phenomenal.
He broke his maxillary bone on Friday after his hard fall in the first quarter. He remained in Cleveland and Cavs athletic trainer Max Benton came up with the black mask. He was fitted for a see-through, protective mask like the one worn by Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. That will likely be ready for Tuesday's game against Toronto.
The mask slid all over the place on Saturday. He still scored 17 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter. People will remember Anderson Varejao missing a free throw with 1 second left. That could have sent it into overtime.
However, with 4:44 to play, Irving scored a driving layup in traffic. He was fouled and his shot bounced off the backboard and into the hoop. Official Monty McCutchen refused to call the continuation foul and sent Irving to the line for two free throws. He blew the call, plain and simple. Irving split the two free throws, which came back to haunt them later. So, instead of a potential three-point play, they scored one point.
Irving made 15 of 25 from the field, 5 of 8 from the 3-point line and 6 of 7 from the foul line.
His big night came one night after Coach Byron Scott called him out for his shoddy defense on Friday. After Saturday's game, that was totally forgotten.
The high-flying Knicks have now won four in a row, including nine of the last 10. The Atlantic Division-leader has the best record in the Eastern Conference and has a 10-0 record at The Garden.
The Cavs are now 2-13 on the road this season. They are also 0-8 on the second night of a back-to-back this year.
They caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was sidelined with a sprained ankle. He's having a standout season and is averaging 27.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Anthony is a legitimate MVP candidate. He's been playing power forward in their offense. What happens once Amar'e Stoudemire returns, no one knows.
After committing a season-high 27 turnovers on Friday, the Cavs had just 12 miscues against the Knicks.
I wondered how Irving would react to Scott's comments on Friday. I will say Scott has to be careful about ripping Irving, even though he might have deserved it in this instance. He's got to give better effort on defense. And so does the rest of this team.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Milwaukee on Friday, 90-86.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Toronto at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Ronnie Brewer (6-7, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Chris Copeland (6-8, 235)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 260) vs. Tyson Chandler (7-1, 240)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Raymond Felton (6-1, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jason Kidd (6-4, 220)
Cavs – G Dion Waiters, F Jon Leuer
Knicks - F/C Amar'e Stoudemire, G Iman Shumpert
Monty McCutchen, Bennie Adams, Karl Lane