Studs and Duds: Knicks pull off remarkable win over Cleveland Cavaliers despite mountain of injuries

New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) dribbles beside Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A night to remember for the New York Knicks saw them go head to head with the rival Cleveland Cavaliers. Jalen Brunson sent shockwaves through New York’s fanbase after suffering a lower-body injury early in the game. Despite missing their most important players, the Knicks handled business as only they could, securing a 107-98 win over Cleveland. 

Studs: Josh “Swiss Army Knife” Hart

Over the last ten games, Josh Hart has averaged 14.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists. The barrage of injuries on behalf of the New York Knicks has left a significant increase in the production of the remaining rotation. Hart’s winning mentality has been the catalyst for a depleted Knicks team attempting to stay afloat.

In this most recent win, Hart scored 13 points, a team-high 19 rebounds, and 10 assists for his third triple-double this season. To seal the game, it was Hart with a side-step three over Evan Mobley to extend New York’s lead to six with 1:36 seconds left. 

The most recent success of Hart provides more versatility for a healthy New York Knicks rotation. With prominent players all set to return over the next month, the significance of Hart retaining his high-octane approach to the game will make him a surprise star during the NBA playoffs. 

Studs: Miles McBride picks up the phone

Unfortunate circumstances for All-Star point guard Jalen Brunson meant extended minutes for Miles McBride. The development of Deuce’s game has been seen every time he’s on the floor with patented handles and an expanding basketball IQ.

Deuce logged 47 minutes of game time following the Brunson injury, as his tendency to always be ready paid off most grandly. Against Cleveland, McBride tallied 16 points and five assists with zero turnovers. Following this level of performance, a permanent rotation spot seems definite for the young guard. 

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo steps up big

No one would’ve guessed how good of an NBA player Donte DiVincenzo has been this season. The marksman has taken everything in stride and delivered his best season yet. Much like Josh Hart, the attributes DiVincenzo brings on a game-to-game basis are winning and contagious.

A level of humility exists that no matter what his assignment is in a game, DiVincenzo will master it. The unexpected sequence of Brunson getting hurt and assisted off the court meant the next man up, and DiVincenzo answered the call every time.

DiVincenzo tallied 28 points, six rebounds, and six threes against Cleveland to lead all scores, but if the assignment was to lockdown Darius Garland, expect a poor shooting night from the Cleveland guard. Sitting comfortably at third in the NBA for threes made this season, DiVincenzo has enough games left to eclipse Evan Fournier’s Knicks’ record of 241 threes in a season. 

Duds: Scary moment for Jalen Brunson 

Barely two minutes into the game, Jalen Brunson sets up a possession that saw him hand off to DiVincenzo, then run around two pin downs, ultimately getting the ball back for a good look. Unfortunately, this time around, an apparent knee injury occurred that Brunson could not put weight on.

The injury appeared to be non-contact, but there were moments prior that could have been the reason. A possible bumping of the knees with Hartenstein or the defending Okoro are both possibilities.

Regardless, the entire franchise and fanbase were holding their breath and clutching their pearls at what reality seemed to be. Updates during and after the game deflated most of the hysteria, as reported by coach Thibodeau, “ That news is good… It’s a knee contusion & everything was negative, so we’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

This is incredible news considering the initial reaction, and with all of New York’s core back soon, the best has yet to come. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Cavaliers 

The New York Knicks escaped with a win in remarkable fashion, thanks once again to the Villanova prodigies. Bojan Bogdanovic had a night with 20 points, but consistency and comfortability are lacking thus far. The Knicks continue to prove doubters wrong time after time, and not a single team in the East wants to see the Knicks in a series when healthy.

Due to the recent knee contusion, playing it safe with Brunson may be the best bet as looking ahead, the Knicks are now on a four-game home stand. The recent performances from Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo show promising signs that they can handle business leading the way for a game or two more. 

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