NEW YORK: Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 31 points, Dion Waiters had 22 and the Cavaliers erased a 17-point deficit in the first half to storm out of Madison Square Garden with a 106-100 victory Sunday against the New York Knicks.
The Cavs limited the Knicks to 39 points and 32 percent shooting in the second half after the Knicks enjoyed a 51-34 lead in the second quarter. It’s the Cavs’ second dramatic comeback in about a week after they rallied from 18 down to beat the Golden State Warriors last weekend.
The Cavs went small in the fourth quarter, using guards Jack, Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova alongside Luol Deng and Anderson Varejao for the bulk of the final quarter. The smaller, quicker lineup gave the Knicks fits at both ends.
Jack was terrific in what was easily his best game of the season. He scorched the Knicks with an assortment of jumpers and runners in the lane while adding 10 assists. He fell just shy of matching his career high of 33 points, but the victory ended the Cavs’ four-game losing streak.
The Knicks, who watched their eight-game winning streak end, imploded late in a game critical to their postseason hopes. They were reduced to primarily jump shooters in the second half, and on the few occasions they got to the rim, blew a handful of open lay-ups.
The Knicks managed just 12 baskets in the second half after scoring 15 in the first quarter alone.
A pair of free throws from Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 32 points, pulled the Knicks within 102-100 with 42 seconds left. Jack took the inbounds pass coming out of a timeout, bled the game clock down to 24 seconds and stuck a jumper from the elbow for his final basket of the night and essentially the game-winner for the Cavs.
Luol Deng returned to the starting lineup despite not practicing yet on his sprained left ankle. He shot around on it Saturday and it felt good enough for him to take a shot at playing.
Deng had 13 points and four rebounds in 33 minutes. He conceded before the game his ankle isn’t 100 percent healthy, but was frustrated by all the losing and wanted to do what he could to end it.
“I've said it so many times since I've been here: When you start losing, they come in a row,” Deng said. “When you start winning they come in a row.”
The Cavs have been plagued by terrible offensive starts recently, falling behind 17-4 to the Rockets, 23-9 to the Heat, 19-5 to the Clippers and 20-4 to the Warriors.
They didn’t fall into a deep hole early against the Knicks, but poor defense eventually resulted in the customary huge deficit. The Knicks led 51-34 with 4:31 left in the first half, but the Cavs kept fighting and ultimately pulled out their second stunner in a week.
Anthony scored 14 points in the first quarter and the Knicks shot 8-for-12 on 3-pointers in the first half. Pablo Prigioni’s 3-pointer, followed by his steal of Spencer Hawes and lob to J.R. Smith for the dunk, extended the Knicks’ lead to 51-34 with 4:31 left in the half.
But the Cavs kept fighting. They defended the passing lanes in the third quarter, pushed the pace of the game and beat the Knicks down the floor in transition. A pair of free throws from Tristan Thompson cut the deficit to 73-70 in the third quarter and a jumper from Anderson Varejao with 9:24 left in the game again cut it to 88-85.
Jarrett Jack eventually tied it at 90 with a driving, twisting lay-up, followed by a jumper on the Cavs’ next possession with 7:29 left.
A 3-pointer from Deng with 5:45 left gave the Cavs a 93-92 lead, their first lead since late in the first quarter.