Right from the jump, the Knicks lacked effort in this brutal loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. New York had a similar problem a week prior against the Sacramento Kings. In both games, the Knicks were coming off of impressive battles on the road (losing 104-102 against the Boston Celtics and recently defeating the Dallas Mavericks 106-102). Then they returned to the Garden to play a game on Sunday evening against a sub-.500 team and getting blown out (113-92 vs. Sacramento and 108-87 vs. Cleveland). The Knicks in both events fell behind early, with little effort on defense and really poor shooting. The Knicks were outscored 31-19 in the 1st Quarter, digging themselves a deep hole early. They eventually made a run in the 3rd quarter cutting the Cavaliers lead to 13 with less than a minute to play in the quarter. Unfortunately, New York used all of their energy to cut the deficit to 13 and couldn’t continue to chip away in the 4th. Only three Knicks recorded double-digits in points (Julius Randle 20, Allonzo Trier 13, and Damyean Dotson 10). Barrett’s struggles continued only scoring 9 points on 4-11 (36%) shooting. Marcus Morris Sr. was coming off a hot stretch, but cooled off tremendously in this game, scoring 9 points, going 3-12 from the field. Frank Ntilikina didn’t add much scoring (4 points), but did fill the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. The two main scorers off the bench for New York, Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis, both struggled in this one. Knox finished with 9 points on 2-9 (22%) shooting, but did add 2 steals and 2 blocks. Portis scored an underwhelming 4 points on 2-10 shooting, but grabbed 11 rebounds, made 3 steals, and picked up a block. The Cavaliers were led by Collin Sexton who scored a career high 31 points. Kevin Love and Jordan clarkson both added 17 points respectively.
Why The Knicks Lost
The Knicks lost this game due to poor effort, shooting, and turnovers. The Knicks shot an embarrassing 36% from the floor, 29% from 3 point, and 64% from the free throw line. They also committed 21 turnovers which led to 27 points for the Cavaliers. Cleveland managed to shoot a slightly lower percentage from three than the Knicks (28.6%), but outscored New York 50-32 in points in the paint.
After this game, Knicks President of Basketball Operations Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry addressed the media in an unplanned press conference discussing their disappointment of the Knicks start to the season. This was very rare and displayed a sense of urgency from management to turn this season around. Mills and Perry emphasized that although winning is the goal, that is not their primary concern. They are concerned with the consistency in effort and play, holding the Knicks back from improvement. There have been rumors swirling that David Fizdale’s job could be on the line if the Knicks don’t start improving very soon. The Knicks play their next game on the road in Chicago against a Bulls team they’ve already beaten this year on Tuesday and then play Dallas whom they’ve already beaten, at home Thursday night for KP’s homecoming. These next two games may lead to a bevy of changes in management and the Knicks roster or it may lead to New York staying course and not making any changes. No matter what, these next two games will be very telling.