NEW YORK (AP) – LeBron James had 23 points and 12 assists, Kyle Korver scored 19 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to spark a huge comeback, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 104-101 on Monday night.
James also had a technical foul after a first-quarter altercation with Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter, which seemed to charge up the Knicks as they built what became a 23-point lead late in the third quarter.
But the Cavaliers made nine 3-pointers in the fourth after hitting just seven through three quarters, charging back for their eighth straight victory at Madison Square Garden.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Kanter added 20 points and 16 boards. But Kristaps Porzingis shot only 7 for 21 while scoring 20 points as the Knicks blew their chance to beat the Cavs for the second time this season.
New York led by 15 after three but the Cavs surrounded James with plenty of perimeter shooting and the Knicks couldn’t contain them. Cleveland tied it on Channing Frye’s 3 with 2:15 to go before James made it 100-97 with another 1:23 left.
The game was just two days after James, following a victory in Dallas, said Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. should be a Knick. The Knicks passed on Smith in the draft, taking Ntilikina one spot earlier at No. 8.
James said he meant it as a shot at former president Phil Jackson, and he was angry that he thought Kanter overreacted in his defense of Ntilikina. So it wasn’t surprising they were involved in an altercation late in the first quarter.
James dunked and then wouldn’t move out of the way as Ntilikina tried to take the ball back to the baseline to throw it in. Ntilikina pushed James, who then exchanged words with Kanter after he ran in. James shoved Kanter, and both were given technical fouls.
The Knicks got hot after that, hitting the Cavs with a 15-0 burst early in the second to open a 47-31 lead. Ntilikina and Hardaway both stole the ball from James during the run, with Hardaway racing in for a dunk after his to cap the run as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared at the sight of vintage Knicks defense and toughness.
The Cavs cut it to six early in the third quarter, but Kanter fueled a 13-2 response that extended the lead to 17 before Tyronn Lue called time and yanked all five players off the floor.
Cavaliers: Derrick Rose, who played for the Knicks last season, remained out with a sprained left ankle. … Cleveland started 2 for 15 behind the arc.
Knicks: Former Knicks stars Bernard King and Latrell Sprewell were at the game. … G Ron Baker was inactive, with coach Jeff Hornacek saying he hurt his shoulder playing for the Knicks’ G League team over the weekend.
Cavs players took the subway back to their hotel after their morning shootaround at MSG, rather than sit in traffic on the bus. James, in a video posted by the NBA , said it was his first time taking the subway in New York.
Joakim Noah was eligible to play after the completion of his 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy last season, but the Knicks kept him on the inactive list. Hornacek said Noah is in shape – he was allowed to practice during his suspension – and a valued member of the team, but the Knicks’ center tandem of Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn has been playing well.
“That kind of goes into the thought process right now and he understands that,” Hornacek said. “The team is playing pretty well right now and to kind of change up the chemistry – not that that screws up chemistry – but having different guys on the injured list can change things.”
Cavaliers: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host Utah on Wednesday.
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