New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, and the New York Knicks spoiled LeBron James’ homecoming, topping the Cleveland Cavaliers, 95-90, at Quicken Loans Arena Thursday night.

The Cavaliers jumped out to a quick start, taking an 11-point lead early in the second quarter. However, the Knicks slowly chipped away, and by halftime, Cleveland was only up 44-42.

New York proceeded to drop 53 points on the Cavs during the second half, 16 of those coming from Anthony.

The Knicks shot 53.6 percent from the floor overall and converted on six of their 12 three-point attempts. They also assisted on 30 of their 37 made field goals.

James appeared affected by nerves, as the perennial All-Star shot only 5-of-15 from the floor and matched a career high with eight turnovers.

As a team, the Cavaliers coughed up the rock 19 times, leading to 26 New York points.

 

New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony: A

Carmelo Anthony was spectacular.

He scored 25 points, 16 of those coming in the second half. He was also huge down the stretch, hitting six of his last seven shots, including a beautiful baseline jumper over LeBron James to essentially seal the game late.

What’s more, Anthony did a nice job facilitating, handing out six assists.

Melo went 9-of-17 from the floor, knocking down a couple of treys and going 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.

Finally, he was a plus-nine in the win.

 

Amar’e Stoudemire: C-

Amar’e Stoudemire wasn’t particularly efficient on this night.

The big man went only 3-of-8 from the floor, scoring eight points in 24 minutes. He did, however, do a solid job of setting screens to create lanes for Anthony, so at least there was that.

Stoudemire totaled four boards as well.

 

J.R. Smith: B+

J.R. Smith got off to a rocky start in this one, leading some to question whether he has any idea of what the triangle offense really is.

However, Smith settled down and actually ended up having himself a decent outing.

He stayed under control for most of the night, taking only 10 shots (he made five), and he dished out a rather impressive seven assists.

Smith also made a big teardrop to put the Knicks up five with under 50 seconds to play.

Perhaps learning this offense will not be as complicated for Smith as the masses feel.

Smith scored 11 points.

 

Iman Shumpert: B

For a guy who struggled with his confidence so much last season, Iman Shumpert looked awfully good on Thursday night.

The Georgia Tech product scored 11 points off 4-of-7 shooting and did a solid job of handling the ball when New York needed to beat the press.

Of course, Shumpert was hardly a showstopper in this contest, but he looked significantly better than last year. He stayed the course and played within himself.

Shumpert also grabbed three rebounds in 29 minutes.

 

Rest of Team: A-

Quincy Acy was outstanding in 22 minutes. Although he ended up fouling out, one of the newest Knicks posted eight points and 10 boards, six of those coming on the offensive glass.

Jason Smith was brilliant too, spotting up for mid-range jumpers and burying five of his six shots. He totaled 12 points.

Second-year guard Shane Larkin also had a solid outing, tallying nine points and doing an incredible job of playing the passing lanes with five steals.

Finally, Pablo Prigioni hit a pair of triples for six points, and Cole Aldrich gave New York 14 good minutes off the pine, pulling down six rebounds.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James: D-

LeBron James got off to an inauspicious start in his return home.

The superstar went only 1-of-9 in the first half and displayed very sloppy handles, turning the ball over three times in the first quarter.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, this continued throughout the rest of the contest for James.

The two-time champion ended with 17 points off a paltry 5-of-15 clip, turning the ball over eight times overall, which matched a career high.

To make matters worse, James was a game-worst minus-13.

You have to think LeBron will be much better next game now that he got the home opener out of the way.

 

Kevin Love: B+

Unlike James, Kevin Love got off to a terrific start, recording 11 points in the first period and giving the Knicks fits with his ability to space the floor.

However, Love slowed down considerably as the night progressed, as he scored only eight points the rest of the way.

Love remained a force on the boards for most of the night, grabbing 14, but seven of those came during those explosive first 12 minutes.

Love finished with 19 points off 6-of-14 shooting and also handed out four assists.

The forward put up solid numbers, but his ineffectiveness down the stretch hurt his team dearly.

 

Kyrie Irving: A-

Kyrie Irving was probably the best and most consistent of the Cavs‘ Big Three Thursday night.

Irving did a fine job of attacking the basket all game, scoring 22 points off 8-of-14 shooting. With James struggling, he sensed that he needed to get more aggressive, and he did just that.

Irving posted six assists and five rebounds to go along with his point total.

It would be terrific if Cleveland can get this Irving night in and night out.

 

Anderson Varejao: C+

Anderson Varejao was relatively quiet.

He tallied 10 points off 4-of-5 shooting, but he did not make his usual impact on the glass, hauling in only four boards.

Varejao also did not provide much in the way of rim protection.

Cleveland will need more from the Brazilian if it wants to be serious about contending this season.

 

Rest of Team: F

There wasn’t much to write home about for Cleveland in terms of production from its role players.

Dion Waiters had a fairly subdued evening, scoring 10 points off 4-of-9 shooting. Then, in terms of bench production, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova contributed six points apiece.

Shawn Marion played 10 minutes but went scoreless. 

Twelve bench points is just not going to cut it.

 

Coming Up Next

The Knicks will host the Charlotte Hornets Nov. 2. 

The Cavaliers will travel to Chicago to play the Bulls Oct. 31.

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Knicks spoil James’ homecoming, 95-90 (Yahoo Sports)

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on after a play in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 30, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

LeBron James struggled from the start in his first game with Cleveland in four years, and the New York Knicks ruined the megastar’s emotional homecoming with a 95-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night. James, who returned to the Cavs and his native Ohio this summer after winning two NBA titles in Miami, finished with 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and buried a jumper with James in his face with 25 seconds left to give the Knicks a 92-87 lead. Kyrie Irving scored 22 and Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who have some work to before they can start thinking about any titles.


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Knicks vs. Cavaliers: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers commenced Thursday evening at Quicken Loans Arena. However, the New York Knicks spoiled it, overcoming a two-point halftime deficit to pull out an impressive 95-90 victory.

ESPN Stats & Info noted the Cavs’ rather poor history in regular-season openers with James on the team, which is somewhat of a silver lining in light of the letdown:

James didn’t shy away from the spotlight ahead of his 2014-15 NBA season debut, per SportsCenter:

But three first-quarter turnovers and eight of nine missed shots in the first half saw James start his second stint in Cleveland on a sour note. It was Kevin Love, a past All-Star in Minnesota, who pulled the most weight for the hosts with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists before the halftime intermission.

At least the pair combined for a memorable play to give James his first points of the year:

But ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, among many others, was surprised as to how underwhelming James’ performance was:

Bob Finnan of The News-Herald highlighted the brutal numbers James posted:

The incumbent among Cleveland’s tremendous trio, point guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 22 points, had five rebounds and seven assists, tried to galvanize the Cavs’ comeback charge in the final quarter.

Irving got a bucket to snap a field-goal drought that lasted approximately five-and-a-half minutes and then got a steal and dished it to James for a layup, cutting the deficit to 82-77 with 4:33 left.

ESPN’s Jay Williams commented on Irving’s brilliance:

It just wasn’t enough to stop a hot-shooting Knicks team in the end. New York did cough up the ball down the stretch but had already done adequate damage and built a big enough lead to hold on.

After one of those turnovers and a sweet Irving drive to the basket, Love had a chance to tie the score at 88 but missed an open three-pointer. Knicks sixth man extraordinaire J.R. Smith then hit a runner in the lane on the other end.

When James got an easy score to cut it back to a one-possession game, Carmelo Anthony (25 points) hit a shot in James’ eye at the other end to ice it.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor praised Anthony’s clutch baseline jumper:

Daryl Ruiter of CBS Cleveland noted how the officiating began to frustrate fans late in Thursday’s heated battle:

Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick provides quotes from new Cleveland head coach David Blatt and James:

Cleveland’s ineptitude on offense was evident, though. Everyone tried to share the wealth a little too much. That resulted in a lot of sets that lacked cohesion and movement.

The Associated Press’ Tom Withers weighed in:

Thursday wasn’t the smoothest of starts for this new, exciting era for the Cavaliers franchise, but the city of Cleveland was a special place to bear witness to. The talent between James, Irving and Love will meld together soon enough and catapult the Cavs into the NBA’s elite, relieving years of failure since James’ initial departure.

Turner Sports’ Matt Winer brings up a strong point about James’ initial adjustment period with the Miami Heat:

Blatt will be tested right away in getting his squad back on track. Friday is quickly approaching, and the Cavs have a road trip to take on the Chicago Bulls.

In a matchup that features the two teams many are expecting to qualify for the Eastern Conference Finals, it is critical for Cleveland to put forth a strong effort. As long as James plays better, with these opening-game jitters and emotion out of the way, that shouldn’t be a problem.

However, the Knicks did lose by 24 points at home to Chicago in their opener on Wednesday, so it’s on Blatt and James as the Cavs’ emerging leaders to inspire everyone to bounce back.

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Marc Gasol interested in Knicks?

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is playing for a contract this season, and he got the year off to a strong start with 32 points and nine rebounds in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. Gasol, 29, is expected to be one of the top free agents on the market before the…Read More

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Phil Jackson: Knicks ‘not ready for showtime’

Knicks president Phil Jackson says his team isn’t “ready for showtime” following New York’s 24-point season-opening loss to the Chicago Bulls late Wednesday night. “Not ready for showtime, were we guys?” Jackson said, via ESPNNewYork.com. The Knicks made just 37 percent of their shots and allowed Chicago to score 42 points in the paint. “When we stopped competing the end of the third quarter, fourth quarter, we could all tell,” J.R. Smith said. “I think they looked at it as if they felt they smelled blood in the water. We just couldn’t do anything about it. We put our heads down and tucked our tails. We can’t do that at home.” Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with just 14 points and had three turnovers.  Amar’e Stoudemire had 12 points with eight rebounds. But Jackson expected the Knicks to struggle. “Sure did,” he said. The Knicks are implementing a new offense and have a first-year coach with five new rotation players. “We’re going somewhere,” coach Derek Fisher sai

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New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

It’s a return four years in the making, one you simply have to witness. 

Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks are bringing their work-in-progress triangle offense to Quicken Loans Arena, but make no mistake about it. This Thursday night show is all about LeBron James, who will kick off the second portion of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

More so than ever, all eyes will be firmly affixed upon the presence of No. 23—yes, No. 23, as the No. 6 jersey is now firmly in the past. Not only is this his official return to Northeast Ohio, but it’s also the very first time he’ll team up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in a game that actually matters. 

Against a New York defense that looked rather porous during its season opener and the exhibition season that preceded it, the NBA‘s newest Big Three should be able to rack up plenty of big numbers. Chemistry will inevitably be a work in progress, but it’s not as though the new-look Cavs are lacking in the talent department. 

Missing James’ debut with the Miami Heat was an egregious sin for any basketball fan, but a failure to see him walk back onto the court after coming full circle with his hometown franchise would be even worse. 

First comes the powder then come the cheers.

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Tim Hardaway Has Golden Opportunity to Make Mark with New Knicks Regime

The New York Knicks enter the 2014-15 season looking to start a new chapter in franchise history under the Phil Jackson administration, following a decade mired with disappointment.

Going into his second year, Tim Hardaway Jr. has a great chance to be establish himself as a key player for the franchise and its future.

Hardaway was already viewed as virtually “untouchable” at the trade deadline, according to Marc Berman of the NY Post, but with Jackson and Derek Fisher arriving since then, he still has work to do generate that same confidence from this new regime.

The new year also presents an opportunity to Hardaway as much as anything. With tempered expectations, Fisher will be experimental with his lineups, so the young guard will get his chance to carve his role in the new system.

Without a doubt, Hardaway has the potential to become the Knicks’ marquee prospect if he continues to impress like he did in his rookie season, where he averaged 10.2 points per game on 43 percent shooting off the bench. It’s no surprise that the team picked up his third-year option, even while they remain unsure about the futures of Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin.

Now part of the triangle offense, Hardaway should find himself more clean spot-up opportunities from outside, where he flourishes, but the onus is on him to improve his game elsewhere.

One-dimensional shooters aren’t exactly indispensable in the NBA, but players who can hit the three and find other ways to score, as well as contribute defensively, are very useful.

Watching him in summer league and preseason, it’s clear he’s put on some weightNBA.com now lists him as 210 lbs as opposed to the 200 lbs (via NBADraft.net) he weighed going into his rookie season. This has helped him get to the rim more often and will also be a bonus on the defensive end, particularly against some of the league’s more physical 2-guards.

The 2014-15 season isn’t just big on a personal level—New York needs him to be a well-rounded shooting guard if they’re, as rumored, thinking about letting go of Shumpert at the end of the season to save cap space.

For a while now, it has looked like the franchise was eventually going to have to choose between Hardaway, Shumpert and J.R. Smith, and from a purely financial standpoint, Hardaway is the ideal fit.

If his play justifies it, too, the Knicks will find themselves much more flexible in free agency without Shumpert‘s return being essential. A good first half would surely open up the possibility of trading one of the other shooting guards at the deadline, too.

Hardaway‘s potential isn’t hard to see. While there are some very obvious flaws in his game (none of which are particularly surprising for a young player), his rookie season was great for a No. 24 overall pick.

He plays confidently, but not to the point where he thinks he’s set at his current stage of development—traits he no doubt picked up from his five-time All-Star father and his three-year stint at Michigan.

While many may write the 2014-15 season off as a precursor to New York’s 2015 free-agency hunt, it isn’t just a year that can be wasted.

The win-loss record won’t be too important, but there are certain things we need to see on the court—including the team picking up the triangle, Fisher getting used to the sidelines and young players like Hardaway stepping up and proving their worth to Jackson and Company.

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Bulls vs. Knicks: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

From an individual perspective, Derrick Rose‘s regular-season return to the NBA was a mixed bag. He looked sloppy and at times self-conscious offensively and made a few mental errors defensively, relying on his teammates to pick up the slack.

Luckily, the Chicago Bulls now have the cavalry to do just that.

Pau Gasol had a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds), and Taj Gibson led the way with 22 points off the bench as the Bulls ruined the New York Knicks‘ Madison Square Garden opener with a 104-80 win.

Rose, playing a regular-season game for the first time since suffering a torn meniscus last November, had 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes. Tom Thibodeau kept his minutes to a minimum in the second half when the game got out of hand. The 2011 NBA MVP added five assists and got to the free-throw line eight times, a promising sign heading into the rest of the season.

Still, this was a night where Chicago would have been A-OK without its star player.

Using its treasure trove of bigs to its advantage, the Bulls out-rebounded New York 47-38 and had 10 offensive boards. Gasol, playing in his first game since coming over from the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, was accountable for four second chances. The Spaniard looked right at home on both ends of the floor, oscillating back and forth between the two big positions with ease.

Knicks president Phil Jackson, who coached Gasol with the Lakers and tried to recruit him to New York this summer, said his all-around game will be a boost on both ends in Chicago.

“In my coaching tenure, he made a wonderful difference with that team, liked to play, liked to pass, liked to combine with his teammates and enjoy the game and the city and was a person the fans really took to in Los Angeles. I think he’ll be the same in Chicago,” Jackson told Sam Smith of the Bulls’ official website.

The underrated byproduct of Gasol’s arrival is that it allows Gibson to stay in a sixth-man role, in which he looked overqualified Wednesday night. Active on both ends of the floor, Gibson was the leader of a brilliant bench effort, making 10 of 12 shots and grabbing eight rebounds. Chicago’s second unit was at time reminiscent of the 2011-12 “Bench Mob,” with Gibson providing the rim protection while Doug McDermott and Aaron Brooks controlled the perimeter.

Brooks, the latest in a line of Thibodeau reclamation projects at point guard, had 13 points and six assists off the bench.

McDermott, one of two high-profile Chicago rookies making their debut Wednesday, finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. The former National Player of the Year already appears to have the respect of NBA defenses, as the Knicks defenders largely stayed at home whenever he was in the game. Nikola Mirotic, the highly touted Spanish import, had five points and appears to be the clear fourth big in the rotation.

The Bulls bench outscored their counterparts, 55-37, as New York’s talented offense struggled to get anything going. Jason Smith had eight points, but microwave scorers J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Smith has had a particularly frustrating couple of weeks, shooting 33.9 percent during the preseason and struggling to grasp Derek Fisher’s triangle offense.

“Being the type of player I’ve been, it’s a struggle,” Smith told reporters last week. “I’m not going to lie.”

The Knicks as a whole seemed still in the infancy stages of the triangle, an intricate offense popularized during Jackson’s tenures in Los Angeles and Chicago. Possessions were often highlighted by a lot of listless passing, stagnating before leading to a contested mid-range jumper. One of the most prolific three-point shooting teams during the team’s 54-win campaign two years ago, New York shot made only three of its 17 shots from long range.

“We’ve had some conversations with J.R. and a number of our guys,” Fisher said, per Scott Cacciola of The New York Times. “It’s an instinctive game, and our players haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

Carmelo Anthony, who spurned the Bulls this summer to re-sign a five-year deal in New York, had 14 points in his season debut. Anthony, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant before him, is expected to have relative autonomy to break out of the triangle. At least for one night he appeared unwilling to do so, taking a relatively low number (13) of shots.

Amar’e Stoudemire (12 points, eight rebounds) was the only other Knicks starter in double figures. New York shot 36.5 percent as a team.

The Knicks and Bulls each opened their season without a key starter. Jose Calderon was a surprising scratch with his lingering calf injury, while Jimmy Butler will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left thumb, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

The Bulls, as has become a yearly tradition, replaced one of their staples with Kirk Hinrich. Second-year guard Shane Larkin received his first NBA start in place of Calderon. Both turned in nondescript performances, with Larkin finishing with six points and Hinrich 12.

It’s unlikely either player would have made a difference before the despondent MSG crowd. For both teams, opening night seems like a statement on where the respective franchises are in their development. Rose’s return to the floor came and went with a forgettable stat line, and the Bulls’ infrastructure didn’t miss a beat. Anthony didn’t show up and his team got The Reaper.

We’ll have to see if this is a sign of things to come or a case of overreaction theatre. Given we’re a single game into both teams’ seasons, it’s probably a little bit of both.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Gasol, Bulls blow out Knicks in Rose’s return (Yahoo Sports)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New York Knicks during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds in his Chicago debut, Derrick Rose scored 13 points after missing most of the last two seasons, and the Bulls spoiled Derek Fisher’s first game as an NBA coach by beating the New York Knicks 104-80 on Wednesday night. Reserve Taj Gibson finished with 22 points to lead the Bulls, who with a wealth of frontcourt depth didn’t even need a big night from Rose. The former MVP took only seven shots and had five assists in 21 minutes in a game Chicago led by as much as 35. Carmelo Anthony had 14 points for the Knicks, who won’t have it any easier in the second half of their season-opening, back-to-back.


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Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

With the NBA season just two days old, the New York Knicks will host the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night as each team looks to kick off its 2014-15 campaign on the right note.

After failing to make the postseason in 2013-14, the Knicks will debut their new-look squad headlined by rookie head coach Derek Fisher.

Like their opponents, the Bulls spent the offseason revamping their roster, adding veteran big man Pau Gasol to a star-studded roster. Former MVP Derrick Rose will look to lead his potential powerhouse squad from the get-go after missing a significant portion of the past two regular seasons.

Though expectations are certainly higher for the Bulls, both rosters have the potential to compete as the season progresses.

For now, they’ll look to get the upper hand out of the gate.

Keep it locked here on Bleacher Report for live commentary, analysis and highlights.

 

Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

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