CLEVELAND (AP) — A laugher nearly turned into a nightmare for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jordan Clarkson scored 28 points and a basket by Rodney Hood in the fourth quarter gave Cleveland a late lead as the Cavaliers defeated the New York Knicks 113-106 Wednesday after squandering a 22-point lead.
The Cavaliers ended the game on an 8-0 run sparked by Hood’s basket and two free throws by Matthew Dellavedova, who had a season-high 15 points in his first home game for Cleveland since being re-acquired from Milwaukee.
Dellavedova, who became a fan favorite in his first tenure with the Cavaliers from 2013-16, received a standing ovation when he entered in the first quarter. Dellavedova hit his first two 3-pointers in the half, leading to a louder roar with each shot.
“It feels great to be back,” he said. “Big rims here, so it was nice to see a few go in early.”
Dellavedova, who had three 3-pointers, three assists and four rebounds in 22 minutes, led Cleveland’s bench, which outscored New York 64-24. He played in only 12 games with the Bucks, but has averaged 18 minutes in two games with Cleveland
“He did a terrific job,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said. “He really hasn’t been playing so we don’t want to burn him out early. He brings so many intangibles and things we need as a team.”
Hood put the Cavaliers in front 107-106 with 23 seconds remaining after New York took a one-point lead on rookie Kevin Knox’s fast-break dunk with 32 seconds left.
Hood scored 23 points and rookie Collin Sexton had 19.
Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway each scored 20 points for New York, which lost its fifth straight. Knox, moved into the starting lineup before the game, finished with 19.
Emmanuel Mudiay missed in the lane following Hood’s basket and Cedi Osman made two free throws, putting Cleveland up by three. Larry Nance Jr. stole Mudiay’s inbounds pass and Dellavedova’s two free throws pushed the Cavaliers lead to 111-106.
Cleveland led 53-31 midway through the second quarter, but New York began a flurry that carried through the third period and tied the game at 86.
The matchup of teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference began as a blowout, but turned into a tight contest.
“The game was lost in the first quarter, but I am happy with the way we fought back,” New York coach David Fizdale said. “These guys never stop fighting.”
Cleveland hit 15 of 28 shots in the first quarter and built a 53-31 lead midway through the second. Kanter helped move the Knicks closer with nine points in the quarter.
New York’s run continued in the third quarter and Drew called two timeouts in the first four minutes of the period.
Cleveland played its first game without center Tristan Thompson, who could miss a month with a sprained left foot.
Thompson is averaging 12 points and 11.6 rebounds in 27 games. The eight-year veteran was injured when he twisted his foot while landing on the foot of Milwaukee guard Malcolm Brogdon on Monday.
KNOCK IT OFF
Nance has quickly become a fan of Dellavedova, even though they have only played two games together. Nance waved his hands to the fans after they began an “MVP” chant for the guard.
“He needs to stop that,” Dellavedova said with a laugh. “He’s fun to play with, but he needs to stop that.”
Fizdale started Knox in place of Mario Hezonja and the decision nearly gave New York the win. Knox’s dunk off a turnover put the Knicks ahead.
“Two-on-one, I knew we were down one,” he said. “They (my teammates) have been waiting for a while to see that dunk, so I gave it to them.”
“Every game, you’re seeing him get a little bit better, doing more things out there for us,” Fizdale said.
Knicks: Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina each scored 16 points. … New York took a 6-4 lead, but was outscored 33-17 the rest of the first quarter. … New York is 5-11 on the road.
Cavaliers: Drew missed the team’s shootaround because of an illness, but did his pregame meeting with the media and was on the bench during the game. … Channing Frye started at center. … F David Nwaba returned after missing eight games because of a sore right knee.
Knicks: Visit Charlotte on Friday.
Cavaliers: Host Milwaukee on Friday.
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