Julius Randle carries Knicks past Cavaliers as four-game losing skid ends

The last time the Cavaliers visited the Garden, the Knicks began a long winning streak. Maybe Tuesday’s victory will have the same effect.

If nothing else, it ended a four-game losing streak that threatened to ruin all the good vibes of a strong first half of the season. Instead of having to answer questions about how they can mend their broken defense without injured center Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks were able to breathe after one of their best performances in recent weeks.

Julius Randle started hot and never really calmed down, the bench produced in both halves and the maligned defense was solid, as the Knicks beat the Cavaliers, 105-103, for the second time in three tries .

Randle was the star, scoring 36 points, reaching a career-high eight 3-pointers and grabbing 13 rebounds with four assists. But he had a lot of help. The bench produced 27 points and Isaiah Hartenstein was a key factor with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. RJ Barrett added 16 points and Jalen Brunson had 14. Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen each scored 24 points for the Cavaliers.

Julius Randle, who scored a game-high 36 points, set up a jumper in the Knicks’ 105-103 victory over the Cavaliers.
Corey Sipkins

Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein blocks Donovan Mitchell’s tying effort saving a Knicks win.
Corey Sipkins

After trailing by eight in the third quarter, the Knicks (26-23) led until 11 in the fourth, before Mitchell warmed up. Evan Mobley’s field goal fired Cleveland even with 2:29 left. But Randle sank a 3-pointer on the other end and the Knicks never trailed again. The Cavaliers had a chance in the final seconds, but Mitchell’s layup was blocked by Hartenstein and Mobley missed the buzzer.

The Knicks looked to be in control midway through the second quarter, with an 11-point lead and a buzzing offense. The Cavaliers only managed nine runs in the first 5:33 of the second period. But then a few turnovers translated directly into Cleveland dunks, and the momentum turned. The Cavaliers outscored the Knicks, 15-6, in the 4:27 halftime finale and trailed just two at the break.

Jalen Brunson, who scored 14 points, drives to the basket in the Knicks' win.
Jalen Brunson, who scored 14 points, drives to the basket in the Knicks’ win.
Corey Sipkins

Donovan Mitchell, who scored 24 points, shoots Jericho Sims in the Knicks' win.
Donovan Mitchell, who scored 24 points, shoots Jericho Sims in the Knicks’ win.
NBAE via Getty Images

It was similar to the Knicks’ last two losses in that they shot the ball well and had good pace at that end of the court, but didn’t have much to show for it. Their interior defense was soft, allowing 26 points in the paint, and seven turnovers led Tom Thibodeau’s team to take five fewer shots.

Randle led the way, making five of his first six 3-point attempts and scoring 22 on the break. All four reserves — Hartenstein, Miles McBride, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley — scored, helping the Knicks build that cushion that was mostly eroded at halftime by the starters.

Aaron Judge and his wife Samantha watch the action during the Knicks' win.
Aaron Judge and his wife Samantha watch the action during the Knicks’ win.
Corey Sipkins

The Knicks came out for the third quarter stuck in the mud. Their first five possessions produced three turnovers and two rushing 3-pointers. Their first points of the quarter came only at 3:19 and the Cavaliers led five. Thibodeau used two timeouts in the first seven minutes of the quarter. The Knicks were trailing by eight when he used the second.

Whatever he said, it worked. The Knicks grabbed 19 of the game’s next 25 points, turning that eight-point deficit into a five-point lead. Randle scored eight of the points, including a deep, direct 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

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