Knicks blow big lead in loss to shorthanded Cavaliers

Dion Waiters
Former Syracuse star Dion Waiters had a big game for the Cavs.
Credit: Getty Images

The Knicks were unable to avoid a late-game catastrophe as they bumbled to a 106-100 defeat by the hapless Cavaliers.

New York (29-41) found itself in a precarious position against the pesky Cavs (27-44) as the moribund squad fought until the end and pulled off the upset.

“I thought we started out well. We came in at the half playing pretty good basketball and then we went dry early in the third. I thought we came out to start the third so slow, while they made their first five shots,” said head coach Mike Woodson. “Once [Jarrett] Jack and [Dion] Waiters got hot they were tough to stop. I thought Jack made some tough shots. … Even when we had to switch, he hit some tough shots over Tyson [Chandler]. He was the difference in the game tonight.”

Carmelo Anthony was 0-of-6 from the field in the fourth quarter and picked up a crucial offensive foul in the final seconds. The Cavs’ backcourt of Jack and Waiters offset the All-Star forward’s game-high 32 points.

Jack was particularly effective as he weaved past Raymond Felton for most of the night, including his clutch 15-foot jumper with 24.7 seconds remaining to give Cleveland a four-point lead. Jack shot 6-of-7 in the pivotal fourth quarter to really put a damper on the Knicks’ postseason hopes.

The loss against the Cavs was particularly troubling for a Knicks squad fighting for its playoff life. The Hawks, who entered their contest just three games ahead of the Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot, dropped a 96-86 decision to the Raptors earlier in the afternoon, which should’ve opened the door for the Knicks to close the gap.

“It’s tough, very tough,” said Woodson. “I think we could’ve moved within two games tonight of Atlanta if we handled our business and we just didn’t. I gotta take full responsibility for that.”

“This was a huge opportunity lost and one we can’t afford,” said J.R. Smith. “We can’t get it back. We just got to go on the road and win some games and hopefully [the Hawks] keep losing.”

Cleveland refused to accept defeat as they erased a 17-point deficit that was accrued in the first half. Jack and Waiters had 31 points and 22 points, respectively. It was a season high for Jack, who was filling in for injured point guard Kyrie Irving. The franchise player will be out a couple of weeks due to a strained tendon in his left biceps. Cleveland was also without Anthony Bennett, as the No. 1 overall pick is suffering through a sprained knee, and C.J. Miles, who was dealing with an ankle injury.

Cleveland used the hot shooting touch of their backcourt to spur the team to shoot a collective 68 percent in the second half.

Jack, who also added a game-high 10 assists, especially impressed the Knicks.

“They did a great job in the pick-and-roll and Jarrett hit some big shots, some tough shots. We just didn’t do a good job at adjusting,” said Smith, who notched 18 points. “Dion got two or three buckets to start the third quarter and got hot, too. We just need to do a better job at on-the-ball defense and help defense as well.”

“I thought Jarrett took more control of the pick-and-roll and made some tough shots,” said Chandler. “We came out a little flat in the third quarter and had some defensive breakdowns and gave them some rhythm. Every time we made a run, they made a big play. Ray did a great job at challenging Jarrett, but he just made some great shots.”

The loss was the second straight in which the Knicks blew a late lead and wasted a strong performance from its starters, as four of the five notched double-digit scoring. New York failed to duplicate Friday night’s performance against the 76ers when they nearly fell victim to a total collapse in the final four minutes by seeing a 17-point lead shrink to just two, before holding on for the win.

Cleveland’s duo, however, proved to be a bigger nuisance than the Sixers.

“They were just scrapping more [and] hungrier in the second half. We let them come out in the second half and set the tempo instead of us setting the tempo,” said Smith. “It happened, unfortunately, but at this time of the season and where we’re at, we can’t let that happen. It is what it is. … Now we just need to go out West and come home with a clean sweep.”

Knicks notes …

» Chandler grabbed six rebounds, but none on the offensive glass, making it the first time in 21 games he didn’t have an offensive rebound.

» Irving’s absence should’ve been a particularly good sign for the Knicks, as the point guard has eviscerated them this season. Irving was averaging 30.8 points in his last six games against New York and a team-best 30.3 points in this season’s three previous matchups.

» The Knicks have had an up-and-down campaign all season, but one constant has always been Anthony — particularly against the Cavaliers. The Knicks entered the game having won five consecutive home games against the Cavaliers and seven of the last nine overall matchups. Anthony averaged 28.8 points and shooting 50.6 percent in the last five meetings.

» The Knicks entered the game winners of eight straight, which had them in rarified company. They were the first team to win at least eight in a row immediately following a seven-game losing streak since the Rockets did it during the 1992-93 season. That Rockets team advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before bowing out to the Supersonics — just one season before beating the Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals.

Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.


SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…


U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…


Arcade Fire concert review, Massachusetts, Aug. 19

Arcade Fire excel at that neat little trick of burying a line within a song that in different contexts can be taken either as a…


Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.


Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm


Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.


3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…


3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…