Knicks have no answer to James

NEW YORK • On Saturday night, LeBron James started a firestorm in New York with his comments on the Knicks' selection of first-rounder Frank Ntilikina, one pick ahead of the Dallas Mavericks' impressive rookie, Dennis Smith Jr.

On Monday, James helped the Cleveland Cavaliers storm back against New York.

James had 23 points and was one rebound short of a triple-double as the Cavaliers (7-7) rallied from a 23-point deficit to defeat the Knicks (7-6) 104-101 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at Madison Square Garden.

"It is never (just) another game in the Garden," James said after Cleveland's biggest come-from-behind win in more than a decade.

"This is the best basketball arena in the world to play in. I am happy to be a part of this and their crowd is great; their fans are amazing. To be an opposing guy, it is a treat."

James hit a three-pointer to put the Cavs up by three with 1min 23sec left in the game, the final dagger in an unanswered eight-point run to complete the comeback.

He finished with 12 assists and nine rebounds while Kyle Korver added 21 points for the Cavs. James also added three blocks for Cleveland, who have won four of six games after dropping four straight.

The Knicks entered the game with some extra energy after James seemingly called out Ntilikina, although James later clarified that his main criticism related to former Knicks executive Phil Jackson.

New York centre Enes Kanter, who came to his team-mate's rescue in a social media post, stepped up for the Knicks early with Kristaps Porzingis facing foul trouble and generally ineffective.

Kanter had 20 points and 16 rebounds in his seventh double-double of the year to build a big lead.

They led by as much as 23 in the third quarter before heading into the fourth up by 15, and still led by double figures with 6min 53sec left. Cleveland put on the defensive clamps late, though, and the Cavs hit four three-pointers in the last 4min 35sec, including two by Korver, to upend the Knicks.

"It is going to be a lesson for us to try to finish these games," New York coach Jeff Hornacek said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Knicks have no answer to James'. Print Edition | Subscribe