CLEVELAND: This was the type of night Kyrie Irving was waiting on. This was the type of night Mike Brown expected to see sooner or later. In a different sense, this was the type of night a growing Cavs team needed to experience.
Irving continued to torment the New York Knicks with 37 points and 11 assists and the Cavs built two big leads to beat the struggling Knicks 109-94 for their most lopsided win of the season. It’s also their fourth win in five games and their fourth consecutive victory at home.
Irving’s well-documented shooting woes dropped his season shooting percentage to .394. The only players shooting it worse were Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix and Anthony Bennett.
Irving made 14-of-23 shots on Tuesday after making a total of 15 baskets in the Cavs’ previous three games. His .608 shooting percentage was the second-highest of the season, but Irving downplayed his big night after a season of shooting struggles.
“It’s just another game,” Irving said. “I hadn’t shot it as well as I wanted to, but I put in a lot of work on off days and trying to reap some of the rewards. That’s what happened tonight.”
The fact it came against the Knicks shouldn’t be a surprise.
He set a career-high with 41 points last season at Madison Square Garden wearing a black mask and nearly equaled that total Tuesday. His 11 assists fell one shy of his career high and he only had one turnover as well.
Irving is now averaging 25.8 points against the Knicks, his third-highest scoring average against an opposing team, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers.
“I was never worried about him shooting,” Brown said. “To me, it never came up one time. As long as he stays aggressive, plays defense and keeps pushing the pace, then he can go 0-for-30 because I know he’s a great shooter and a guy who can score points in bunches for us.”
Jarrett Jack had 17 points, Tristan Thompson had 12 points and nine rebounds despite battling foul trouble in the first half and C.J. Miles broke out of his shooting funk with 10 points and a couple of 3-pointers.
The Cavs have struggled to build even one 18-point lead in most games this season, but Tuesday they did it twice.
The Cavs had to rely on their starters heavily in the second half because the reserves gave away the first 18-point lead, forcing them to build it all over again.
Cleveland scored 22-of-26 points during a seven-minute stretch in the first quarter to take a 27-9 lead, but the reserves gave it all back thanks to seven baskets and eight turnovers in the second quarter.
Brown stuck with his starters the entire third quarter, only subbing Anderson Varejao for Andrew Bynum with about 3½ minutes left. The starters responded by building the lead back up to 16 entering the fourth.
“We’re working toward having that 16-point lead turn into 30,” Thompson said. “We have to work on continuing to keep that foot on the gas pedal and not letting up on no one.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.