The Knicks, with no RJ Barrett, fell to the Cavs in Madison Square Garden just one night after beating them in Cleveland.

The New York Knicks (2-3) lost their second game of a back-to-back against the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-3) by a final score of 95-89.

The team shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from long range, and 34.8 percent from the field overall. The starters for the Knicks, which included Josh Hart due to RJ Barrett being a late scratch, shot just 19-62 from the field, and New York went 50 percent from the free-throw line.

The Knicks were looking to get their first win streak of their early 2023-24 campaign in their second back-to-back series of the season so far. They were without one of their best players so far this year, though, with Barrett sitting out with a sore left knee.

The first quarter began with some great ball movement from the Knicks, but a shot finally fell for them about three minutes into the contest with a Quentin Grimes layup. For the Cavs, Donovan Mitchell got them off to a hot start with five straight points. Once New York was settled in, they were taking advantage of aggressive Cleveland defense and drawing fouls.

Mitchell Robinson was especially tough in the low post and causing problems for the Cavs’ bigs yet again. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle looked solid to start with their scoring but were struggling to contain Mitchell. With the second unit trickling in for the short-handed Knicks, they were down two to end the first in need of much more consistent scoring.

Opening up the second, Isaiah Hartenstein found a cutting Donte DiVincenzo for a quick slam. DiVincenzo then added a three-ball, getting the Knicks up by one. He, along with Deuce McBride, put pressure on Cleveland’s ball handlers and New York was pressing hard on defense from halfcourt. Despite still finding it hard to keep Mitchell from scoring, they were able to keep stride. DiVincenzo’s 3-and-D prowess was on full display in the second period, and Brunson was unstoppable from midrange to end the half. The team held on to a one-point lead through two, in need of some better three-point shooting and anything consistent from Randle.

The third period began with some very hesitant offense from the Knicks, especially Grimes and Randle. On defense, Randle was also letting a lot by, forcing a quick timeout. Nothing was falling for New York but Cleveland had cooled off as well. Despite the Cavs not getting much separation on the Knicks early in the third, New York was not taking advantage of it with poor shooting and poorer shot selection. After a brief intermission due to glitter on the court, it still seemed like the basket had a lid on it for the Knicks. Quickley, who checked in early in the period, seemed to be the only player who could buy a basket, helping to cut the deficit to just seven entering the fourth.

The Knicks desperately needed threes to fall and overall a much better offense run if they wanted to get back into the game in the fourth. Quickley was continuing to heat up, and the Knicks bench was playing solid defense forcing several turnovers on the Cavs. Despite this, the shooting woes continued with no end in sight. With about four minutes left in the game, Brunson got the game to within three with a jumper, and DiVinvenzo had a huge steal to kill the Cavs’ momentum on the other end. But, Mitchell was left open for a three that he drained, and got a rebound on another he missed and scored with ease. After that sequence, it was back to cold shooting for the team and back into the loss column, as they dropped their second game of a back-to-back against Cleveland.

Brunson led all Knicks scorers with 24 points, and he also grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists. Quickley had 18 points along with six boards, four assists and a steal. DiVincenzo finished up with 16 points, two boards, two steals and a block. Hart had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Robinson grabbed 16 boards and scored six points.

Randle had just six points while grabbing six rebounds and recording four assists, and also had a steal. Grimes had five points, two boards, one assist and one steal. Deuce McBride had three points and two steals in nine minutes of play, while Hartenstein had six boards, two assists and three steals.

The Knicks will get one day of rest before facing off with the new-look Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee for the first game of In-Season Tournament play.

 

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