The New York Knicks overcame an injury to All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and a 22-point deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-97 for their biggest comeback victory in nine years.
The Knicks, who lost Anthony to a second-quarter knee injury, outscored the Cavaliers 53-36 during the second half yesterday to end a 10-game National Basketball Association losing streak in Cleveland and rebound from a home loss to the Miami Heat a day earlier in which they blew a 16-point lead.
“It’s definitely not serious,” Anthony said about the injury, according to the New York Post.
Amar’e Stoudemire matched a season high with 22 points and J.R. Smith added 18 for the Knicks, who improved their record to 36-21. It was New York’s best comeback win since rallying from 26 points down to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on March 14, 2004, according to the Madison Square Garden Network.
“Guys were gritty,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters. “After we got down 22, we started to fight. We lose ’Melo and we started to really, really fight.”
The Heat yesterday beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-81 for their franchise-record 15th straight win. Dwyane Wade led Miami (44-14) with 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while LeBron James had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Knicks trailed 52-30 in Cleveland when Anthony, who entered the game tied with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant for the NBA’s top scoring average, hurt his right knee stumbling at mid-court. Woodson said the extent of Anthony’s injury wouldn’t be known until he has more tests today.
With Anthony held to six points and no starter scoring in double figures, New York was rescued by its bench -- which scored 70 of the team’s 102 points.
“I was about ready to leave the arena, we couldn’t get any stops, it was awful,” Woodson said of the Knicks’ start. “I thought maybe we were just tired and drained from last night, and somewhere we found some energy to get it done.”
The Knicks went on a 17-4 scoring run without Anthony and pulled within 61-49 at halftime. New York then opened the second half by outscoring the Cavaliers 15-3 to tie the score at 64-64. The Knicks trailed 74-70 entering the fourth quarter before making seven of their 12 3-point shots, including one by Jason Kidd with one minute, 36 seconds remaining that gave the visitors a 97-91 advantage.
Tyson Chandler helped clinch the win by blocking a 3-point attempt by Kyrie Irving with 3.5 seconds left that would have tied the score. Marreese Speights had 23 points and Irving had 22 to lead the Cavaliers.
“We all stepped up defensively,” Stoudemire said in a televised interview after the Knicks’ first win in Cleveland since Nov. 29, 2006. “We knew we couldn’t afford to lose this game and we came out with some determination.”