NBA: Cavaliers down Knicks 91-84 for early Christmas cheer

Langston Galloway #2 and Lance Thomas #42 of the New York Knicks trying to stop LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2015.
Langston Galloway #2 and Lance Thomas #42 of the New York Knicks trying to stop LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Kevin Love had 23 points and 13 rebounds and forward LeBron James added 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 91-84 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

The Knicks were playing without Carmelo Anthony and still nearly pulled off the upset thanks to 23 points and 13 rebounds from rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

New York rallied from 11 points down to take their first lead on a tip-in from forward Lou Amundson with 11 minutes to play, but they were well held near the close with Porzingis shut out in the fourth quarter.

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving played 20 minutes in his second game back from a fractured kneecap, but was clearly still rusty, with five points and four assists on 1-of-7 shooting from the field.

The Knicks limited the Cavs to 39 per cent shooting from the floor and had a chance to win until the final minute.

Cavs guard Iman Shumpert's defence forced the Knicks into a timeout after guard Arron Afflalo was trapped in the corner with the score tied at 82.

Knicks forward Lance Thomas threw away the inbounds pass and Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova converted at the other end.

The Cavs strung together a couple more stops, including once when Shumpert stripped Afflalo again two possessions later for a turnover, and James clinched the win with a dunk in the final minute.

Guard Mo Williams returned after missing a week with a sprained right thumb.

"I'll be happiest when we see a full roster that's entirely healthy, but it feels good," Cavaliers head coach Blatt said.

"We've been waiting for this."