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Melo-less Knicks stave off Irving, Cavs
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Tyson Chandler tallied a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds and the New York Knicks escaped with a 103-102 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to remain unbeaten at home.
Without Carmelo Anthony, who missed the game with an injured ankle, Raymond Felton scored a team-high 25 points. He also finished with seven assists for New York, which also received 16 points from J.R. Smith and 13 points from Steve Novak off the bench.
The Cavaliers got a monstrous effort out of Kyrie Irving, who scored a career-high 41 points a day after fracturing his jaw against the Milwaukee Bucks.
"Kyrie (Irving) took over in the second half," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "We made some mistakes that got us in trouble. For the most part we battled, we competed and we played with (a) sense of urgency."
He led a furious late comeback, though Cleveland ultimately fell short after Anderson Varejao missed a potential game-tying free throw with a second left in the game.
Smith then grabbed the rebound off the miss, allowing New York to improve to 10-0 on the season at Madison Square Garden.
"It was a tough game without Carmelo," said Chandler. "We knew we were short- handed, but we wanted to come in and play hard and continue to protect our house."
Jason Kidd, who shot a poor 3-of-14 for the night, still found ways to be effective for the Knicks. He finished with eight assists and six rebounds and hit an important 3-pointer with 3:40 left in the game to put the Knicks on top 93-87.
Felton then hit a short jumper to extend the Knicks' advantage to eight with just over three minutes remaining, but the Cavaliers ran off six straight points to pull within 95-93.
Following a Varejao foul, Chandler hit two clutch free throws to give New York a four-point edge with 40.4 seconds remaining.
Smith then came up with a huge steal on the Cavs' ensuing possession, which led to a pair of free throws from Felton to bring the Knicks' lead to six with 31.4 seconds to go.
However, Irving drained two difficult 3-pointers on consecutive Cleveland possessions around a pair of free throws from Felton to cut the deficit to 101-99.
The Cavaliers then fouled Smith, who only was able to hit 1-of-2 from the line before Kidd was called for a foul on Irving in the backcourt.
With the Knicks over the limit, Irving connected on both free throws to make it a one-point game. Novak was then fouled, but he too only made 1-of-2 from the line.
New York double-teamed Irving on the next Cavs' possession, leaving Varejao unguarded. Irving gave him the ball and the Knicks had to foul him with a second left to prevent him from scoring an easy layup.
The Cavaliers center was able to hit the first, but his second rimmed out and into the hands of Smith, sending Cleveland to its eighth loss in nine games.
Despite a late New York surge in the first quarter, the Cavaliers took a 28-27 lead into the second.
The contest went back-and-forth during the second stanza, but Novak drained one of his three triples in the quarter late in period to break a tie game and send the Knicks into halftime with a 48-45 lead.
New York quickly grabbed a double-digit edge in the third following consecutive 3-pointers from Felton, however Tyler Zeller followed an Irving triple with a hook shot off the glass to cut the Cavs' deficit to two with just over a minute remaining in the period.
But Smith finger rolled in a layup in the final seconds to give New York a 78-73 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
New York's Rasheed Wallace sat out the contest with an injured foot, allowing rookie Chris Copeland to make the first start of his career. In just over 18 minutes of play, he scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting ... C.J. Miles tallied 17 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland ... The Knicks will attempt to match their best start at home since the 1991-92 season when they host the Houston Rockets on Monday.
12/16 01:14:08 ET