Knicks back at MSG, host pesky Cavs

The New York Knicks are coming off just their second loss under interim coach Mike Woodson and will try to right the ship tonight versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden.

New York had won three in a row and eight of nine games until dropping a 100-90 decision last night in Atlanta. Playing without guard Jeremy Lin (knee) for a third straight game and power forward Amare Stoudemire (back) for the same amount of time, the Knicks relied on Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 points on 11 of 24 shooting, and got 25 points from Iman Shumpert.

Landry Fields was the next highest scorer for New York with seven points, as the Knicks shot 44.3 percent and watched the Hawks score 27 points off 18 turnovers.

"We dug a hole and we kept grinding. I think we cut it to two, then we just couldn't make free throws," said Woodson. "We put ourselves in position to go up. I thought we missed four straight free throws and they got the spurt that they needed to secure the game.

"But we were sluggish, I thought, tonight. For some reason I thought we just didn't have the pep that we had at the Garden the other night."

Woodson was alluding to a 108-86 blowout of the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The Knicks are certainly going to be without Stoudemire tonight and Lin is questionable for a team that owns a 17-10 mark as the host. New York is 3 1/2 games off the Atlantic Division lead and 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

The Knicks have ripped off six straight wins as the host.

Cleveland is hoping Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving can shake off a shoulder injury tonight in the Big Apple. Irving left last night's 121-84 loss versus Milwaukee with the problem and could miss Saturday's game.

"I came off a screen and (Ersan) Ilyasova was right there. I tried to brace myself for the fall and I hurt my shoulder," Irving said. "I'm just in a lot of pain. Throughout the third quarter, I still shot the ball, but there's just a lot of pain in my shoulder right now. I've just got to get through it though."

Irving scored 29 points and Alonzo Gee added 19 for the Cavs, who have lost six in a row and nine of 10 games. Tristan Thompson netted 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in defeat.

"We just have to come out with more fight," said Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott. "We have to play harder. I still think we're playing hard, but right now, you have to go above and beyond, especially on the defensive end because that is what's killing us right now."

The Cavs have dropped three in a row on the road and are 8-15 as the visitor this season. They are currently last in the Central Division and haven't lost seven in a row since an NBA-worst 26-game slide a year ago.

Cleveland and New York have split two meetings already this season, while the Cavs own a 13-3 mark in the past 16 matchups between the teams. The Cavaliers are winless in two straight trips to MSG after winning five in a row there.