CLEVELAND: The night began with a confetti toss and ended in bitter disappointment. In between, the cautions of the players and coach David Blatt throughout the preseason of how long it will take the Cavs to figure things out rang true.



Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, including a big basket over LeBron James in the final minute, as the New York Knicks spoiled James’ reunion celebration with a 95-90 victory Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.



A city and team poised for an explosion instead fizzled under the spotlight of opening night. James shot just 5-for-15 and finished with 17 points, five rebounds and eight turnovers in his first game back since announcing on July 11 he was returning to the Cavaliers after four years with the Miami Heat.



The arena had the atmosphere of a conference finals game, but the Knicks took control in the second half behind red-hot shooting, terrific bench play and a stagnant Cavs offense.



The Cavs cut a nine-point deficit to 88-85 in the final minute, but J.R. Smith’s floater with 48 seconds left pushed the Knicks’ lead to 90-85 and Anthony followed with a jumper over James to stretch it to 92-87. Smith had 11 points as part of a Knicks bench that outscored the Cavs’ reserves 41-12.



Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova each had six points off the bench. Shawn Marion and Mike Miller, two reserves much was expected from this season, played just 12 minutes combined. Miller, who struggled shooting throughout the preseason, did not attempt a shot while Marion was 0-for-2.



The Knicks were pounded by 24 points by the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and quickly fell behind 21-12 in the first quarter against the Cavs. But they fought back to take a brief lead late in the second quarter and opened an 84-77 lead late while James scuffled.



James shot just 1-for-9 in the first half and committed four turnovers after battling turnover issues throughout the preseason.



Iman Shumpert scored 12 points and Quincy Acy grabbed 10 rebounds in a rare start for the Knicks, who shot 54 percent for the game.



Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 22 points. Kevin Love had 19 points and 14 rebounds in his Cavs debut and Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters each scored 10 points.



The night’s festivities belonged to James, who received roaring ovations throughout the night. The city of Cleveland erupted and fans immediately snatched up all of the team’s season tickets the same day James announced his return. Interest in Thursday’s opener pushed ticket prices into the thousands on secondary markets.



James brought back the powder toss, which he stopped doing in Miami, and had help as 20,000 fans tossed confetti into the air with him. The scene created what looked like a celebration before the game — and season — even began.



“This is probably one of the biggest sporting events up here ever,” James said before the game. “I understand how much I mean to this team, to this franchise, to this city, to this state,” James said. “It’s the path that the man above has created for me and it’s the journey He wanted me to walk on. I’ll take the responsibility of what I need to do on the floor and off the floor as a role model and just go about it the best way you can.”



Jason Lloyd can be reached at jlloyd@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.