Knicks look to stay hot against Cleveland
The New York Knicks may have to try and extend their best home start in 20 years without superstar Carmelo Anthony on Saturday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Anthony is among the league leaders with 27.9 points per game this season and has netted at least 30 in three straight contests since sitting out two in a row because of a finger injury.
The forward scored 45 points in a win at Brooklyn on Dec. 11 and seemed on his way to eclipsing that number on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers before exiting in the third quarter of a 116-107 win with an ankle injury.
Anthony still had 30 points in the win, including 22 in a 41-point first quarter. He made his first four shots of the opening frame, the first three coming from behind the arc.
"I was just going. I was zoned in. I was locked in. Tonight was one of those games where I had that feeling. I wanted to get it going early. My teammates early on were kind of feeding off that," said Anthony, who was forced to leave the game with 6:54 left in the third following a foul by the Lakers' Dwight Howard.
Anthony is questionable for Saturday night as New York plays the second of a six-game homestand.
Raymond Felton added 19 points and eight assists, while Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith each donated 18 points as the Knicks won their third straight and for the eighth time in nine games.
New York also improved to 9-0 at home this season, its best start since also winning its first nine in 1992-93. The Knicks last won their first 10 as the hosting club a season earlier with an 11-0 start.
The Cavs had such promise when star point guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving returned. Irving came back to the Cleveland lineup on Tuesday and co-led the Cavs to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The next night, the Cavs fell hard in Indiana, 96-81 to the Pacers. On Friday, Cleveland nearly overcame a 16-point, first-half deficit, but couldn't do enough late.
What also hampered any chance for success for the Cavaliers was their inability to take care of the basketball. Cleveland posted an NBA-high for the season, 27 turnovers, in the loss.
"It's pretty simple. When you come out with the lack of energy and lack of effort that we came out with, and you commit 27 turnovers, you're not going to win a whole lot of games," Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott said.
Irving led the way for the Cavs, both in scoring (26) and turnovers (6). Anderson Varejao had eight points and 18 rebounds. He left the game in the second quarter with a bruised leg, but X-rays were negative and the league's best rebounder returned in the third quarter.
Rookie guard Dion Waiters missed his seventh straight with an ankle sprain and isn't expected to play on Saturday. Omri Casspi, who sat out two tilts with the flu, could be back against the Knicks.
The Knicks and Cavaliers split four meetings a season ago, with each team winning twice on its home court. Cleveland has won 13 of the last 16 encounters overall, but has dropped three straight in New York.