An injury-riddled Cavs scrap their way to a win over the Knicks behind a big performance from Andre Drummond.
In a game where the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7) were severely hit by injuries and missing any traditional point guards or playmakers, the New York Knicks (5-8) had every opportunity to be looking to steal a road win. Despite a nasty poster dunk from Julius Randle at the end, it wasn’t to be.
The story of the night was Andre Drummond’s performance. While you can usually take commentator’s points of emphasis with a grain of salt, MSG Network’s Clyde Frazier was spot on when warning the Knicks to “stop Drummond from hummin’” this game.
Ending the night with 32 points, 23 rebounds, three assists—hitting 13 of his 19 free throws, New York had no answer for Drummond.
He had some really impressive off-the-dribble moves and kept sealing the Knicks’ bigs behind him for some easy duck-in post hooks. It didn’t help that Mitchell Robinson hit the ground hard in the second quarter after a missed dunk (if you missed it, you’ll see it on Shaqtin’ a Fool soon) and looked like he was limping for the rest of the game.
To start the game, it seemed like Cleveland was only scoring through transition opportunities and offensive rebounds but their surprising defensive this year (first in Defensive Rating, according to Cleaning the Glass) kept them in the game enough and the Knicks lost, 103-106.
Due to their injury situation, all five starters for the Cavs played at least 40 minutes and, excluding Dean Wade’s two minutes of play, J.B. Bickerstaff only played seven players tonight. While it’s a disappointing loss, you have to tip your hat to the Cavs for somehow winning this game.
The biggest backbreaker for the Knicks was when Julius Randle committed a clear-path foul late in the game, letting former Knick Damyean Dotson take and make two free throws with possession of the ball. Dotson ended up with seven fourth-quarter points, which were enough to seal the win.
In terms of silver linings, it was another exciting performance from Immanuel Quickley who, in 28 minutes of action, had 23 points and four assists and was a +11 in a game they lost by three. It was highlighted by a 12-0 run to end the first quarter with IQ hitting a pair of threes and got the team playing faster, he even had an awesome lob to Nerlens Noel (who had six blocks tonight and was +15).
Quick throws it up, Nerlens does the rest 🔨 pic.twitter.com/MspHwiKMR2
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 16, 2021
Obi Toppin eclipsed his 57 seconds he played against Brooklyn last game but struggled to be effective in ten minutes of play, missing both his shots. Coming off an extended break due to a hip injury, it’s understandable and it’s fine not to expect much.
R.J. Barrett had a good outing, scoring 20 points while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor including a ridiculous pull-up mid-ranger late in the fourth to keep the team alive.
RJ CLUTCH. LET’S GO pic.twitter.com/X54uUzkAUr
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 16, 2021
And like clockwork, another Knicks game gets another round of fans on Twitter asking for Elfrid Payton’s head starting spot, especially with Quickley looking great and being five years younger. It’s getting harder and harder for Tom Thibodeau to ignore now.
But at least there’s solace with the fact that the team’s nearly at the 15-20 game mark, one that SNY’s Ian Begley reported would be somewhat of a deadline for the team to make changes. But that’s a discussion for a different day.
It’s a disappointing loss for a Knicks team that was hoping to stop a losing streak. With their next three games being the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Golden State Warriors, all teams with .500 or better records, this was a huge missed opportunity against an injured Cleveland team.
On to the next one.