NBA Game Summary - New York at Cleveland
(Friday, November 2nd)
Final Score: Cleveland 110, New York 106
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - LeBron James poured in 45 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed seven rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers recovered from an embarrassing opening night loss and held on for a 110-106 victory over New York in the Knicks' season opener.
James shot nearly 50 percent from the floor - 13-for-28 - and hit 16 of his 22 free throw attempts. He hit three three-pointers, had three steals, and was equally productive in both halves, scoring 23 first-half points and 22 in the second as he basically willed the Cavs to their first victory of the season.
It was a sharp contrast to the 10 points James had in a 92-74 home loss to Dallas on Wednesday.
"It's about showing a little energy," James said. "I don't think I played with the energy I know I can play with on Wednesday, and I came out with a lot of energy tonight. I think my guys fed off of me getting some easy buckets, getting to the line, and once I get into the lane like that it opens up for shots like (Gibson) had. Drew had some great jumpers, so it makes it a lot easier on my teammates when I'm as aggressive as I was tonight."
Cleveland also got 24 points from Daniel Gibson, who was 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, and a 14-point, six-rebound performance from Drew Gooden.
Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 25 points and six assists, while the frontcourt duo of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph combined for 39 points and 21 rebounds in its debut. Randolph had 21 points and 14 boards in his first game as a Knick, while Curry totaled 18 points and seven boards.
Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 19 on 4-for-5 three-point shooting, but starting point guard Stephon Marbury was held to 10 points on 3-for-11 from the floor.
"We got beat by a great performance tonight," said Knicks coach Isiah Thomas. "We feel we could have overcome it...If you're going to win on the road, you can't have the mental breakdowns that we had in this ballgame...We're not ready. In a six-point basketball game, it's the little things that beat you and it's the little things we'll get better at. It's game one and it's 81 more to go and we'll get better from this date."
New York used an 11-2 run in the middle of the third quarter to open a 78-69 lead, but James and Damon Jones hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Cavs within three. Crawford hit a baseline leaner with just over 30 seconds remaining, and New York led 80-75 heading into the fourth.
James hit a jumper with Fred Jones draped all over him, then stole a crosscourt pass and took it the length of the floor, drawing a foul on Robinson and hitting both free throws to cut the Knicks' lead to 82-81. After a three-pointer from Gibson and another James three-point play, Cleveland had an 89-86 lead with just over 6 1/2 minutes to play.
Gibson hit his sixth three-pointer to make it 92-87, but Marbury answered in kind to bring the Knicks back within two. Gibson then found a hole in the Knicks zone and hit another three from the right wing to extend the lead to 95-90.
Curry scored on a pass through the lane from Randolph, but James then sandwiched a Randolph basket with a jumper from the left wing and a driving layup to put the Cavs up 103-96 with 2:35 to go. Robinson's free throw with a little more than a minute brought New York within 105-100, and Crawford got a steal and a hit a pair of foul shots to make it a three-point game with 22 seconds to go.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas hit one of two free throws, and Crawford then drove for a score to make it 106-104 with 15.2 seconds left. The Knicks quickly fouled James immediately off the inbounds pass, and the Cavs star effectively sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
New York rode Curry's dominance on the interior to a 34-32 lead through one quarter, though the Cavs stayed close thanks to Gibson's hot shooting. The second-year man out of Texas hit his first four shots, accounting for 11 of Cleveland's first 19 points.
Both teams cooled off during the second quarter, but the Knicks' bench, led by Robinson and David Lee, kept the Cavs at bay to maintain the lead for most of the period. Cleveland cut it to 47-45 with just under three minutes left on a beautiful lob pass from Larry Hughes to James, then took a one-point edge when James rebounded his own missed free throw a hit a short jumper.
A Damon Jones three-pointer gave the Cavs a 54-52 lead with under a minute to go before the half, but Curry's putback on the ensuing possession tied the game before James' free throw - his 23rd point of the half - sent Cavs to the locker room with a one-point advantage.
"LeBron's our leader and with his aggressive play tonight, we just fed off of that," Cavs head coach Mike Brown said afterward. "In the second half we defended. We just have to keep trying to sure up that defensive end of the floor, and we did a better job of it but we still have a ways to go."
New York has lost 16 of its last 20 dating back to the end of last season...Cleveland has taken four of its last six against the Knicks...Ilgauskas followed up his 18-rebound performance in the opener by pulling down 12 boards...New York was without Jerome James and Jared Jeffries, who are both nursing knee injuries; Cleveland was without injured point guard Eric Snow, and swingman Sasha Pavlovic, who ended a long contract holdout earlier Friday but did not dress after missing the entire preseason.
11/02 23:47:59 ET