Brunson, Barrett lead Knicks over Cavs 102-93 | News, Sports, Work

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) drives past New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson in the first half of Game 4 in a first-round NBA playoff series, Sunday, April 23, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks have had so few chances to join the NBA postseason party that they might forget the real fun hasn’t even begun.

“There’s nothing to celebrate” Jalen Brunson said. “There’s nothing to really be happy about.”

One more win and that changes.

Brunson scored 29 points, RJ Barrett had 26, and the Knicks took a 3-1 first-round series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 102-93 victory on Sunday.

Josh Hart moved into the starting lineup and added 19 points and seven rebounds for the fifth-seeded Knicks, who can reach the second round for the first time since 2013 with a win in Cleveland on Wednesday. New York will host a Game 6 if necessary on Friday in what has been a deafening Madison Square Garden for the past two games.

“There’s nothing quite like a big game in the garden” That’s what Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

There could be a few more as his team defends.

New York forced Cleveland All-Star Donovan Mitchell into one of the worst games of his postseason career, finishing with just 11 points on 5-for-18 shooting. Darius Garland had 23 points and 10 assists for the Cavs, returning well after 4 for 21 in Game 3 of the Knicks. Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert each scored 14 points.

“This is not over,” Mitchell said. “The way we lost is disgusting. We cannot hang our heads and eventually give up. We’re not that type of band. Like I said, we’ll be ready for Game 5.”

Barrett was just 6-for-25 in the two games in Cleveland, but was outstanding at home, where fans chanted his name in the second half. He had five straight points to lift the Knicks from a 75-point tie, then added another basket before Hart scored to make it 90-81 midway through a period when Cleveland could only make two baskets to more than four minutes.

After holding the Cavs to 79 points on Friday, the lowest total in an NBA game this season, the Knicks led most of the way in this one to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since beating Boston in 2013 .

They’ve only made it back to the playoffs once since then, falling in five games to Atlanta in 2021. But this team is more complete, thanks in large part to the signing of Brunson last summer after he helped Dallas reach the Finals in the Western Conference, then acquired Hart from Portland that season.

Starting together for the first time since they were college teammates at Villanova, the duo combined for 20 of the Knicks’ 30 points in a first quarter that ended with a seven-game lead.

New York pushed it to double figures in the second, and Brunson’s 3-pointer midway through the period made it 46-31. The Knicks led 54-45.

“During the regular season, we were able to flip some switches and get back into games,” Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff said. “This time just doesn’t provide an opportunity to do it.”

But Garland made the first two baskets of the third quarter, set up Cleveland’s next three field goals, then had the Cavs’ next two field goals to tie the game at 59. His three-point play gave Cleveland a 66-63 lead and he had 11 points and five assists in the period before Brunson hit a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left to put the Knicks ahead 73-71 in the fourth.

“Jaylon made a great shot at the end of the third to put us up, so that was big, and the fourth quarter, I just stayed strong,” Barrett said. “Every time they hit, we threw something back.”


Cavaliers: Evan Mobley had 12 points but sat out the fourth quarter. … Cleveland fell to 7-2 in Game 4s since 2017.

Knicks: Hart started in place of guard Quentin Grimes, who has a bruised right shoulder. … Mitchell Robinson had 12 points and 11 rebounds. … All-Star Julius Randle finished with just seven points and two rebounds.


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