Cavaliers crush Knicks
LeBron James' only action in the fourth quarter last night came on the bench during timeouts, when he played to the crowd and danced alongside his teammates.
If the New York Knicks were hoping to impress the Cavaliers superstar in their final meeting before he can become a free agent this summer, they flopped badly in Cleveland's 124-93 victory.
The Knicks have gutted their roster over the last couple of years in hopes of being far enough under the salary cap to offer a pair of max contracts this summer, when James can lead an All-Star cast of free agents.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was asked if all the losing, and the embarrassing beatings like the one sustained last night, is worth it.
"I'll tell you next year," he said. "Right now it's pretty frustrating for everybody, but it's what we're doing."
James had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Cleveland used a 74-point first half to hammer the Knicks in their first game since learning Shaquille O'Neal will miss the rest of the regular season.
The Cavs didn't need O'Neal — or James — to pummel New York. James sat the entire fourth quarter as Cleveland built a 49-point lead in the second half.
The 31-point margin of victory is the largest this season for Cleveland, which equaled a season high with its 74-point first half — set three weeks ago against the Knicks. The Cavaliers outrebounded New York 60-31 in winning their eighth straight in the series, allowing James to goof off and put J.J. Hickson in a headlock during a timeout in the fourth quarter.
"They have a lot of fun here at home," New York's Tracy McGrady said. "It's tough to beat them at home. I'd have fun, too. If it's that easy, why not have fun? I don't blame them for celebrating. We have to do something about it."
Spurs 106, Hornets 92: George Hill scored 23 points and visiting San Antonio won its second straight, beating New Orleans. Tim Duncan added 22 points and nine rebounds, and Tony Parker had 18 points for the Spurs, who shot 51 percent and led by 20 in the third quarter before holding on without much drama.
Suns 101, Nuggets 85: Amare Stoudemire had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and the reserves keyed a big second quarter for Phoenix in a victory over visiting Denver. Goran Dragic scored 10 first-half points off the bench and the reserves scored 24 of 33 second-quarter points, when the Suns quickly erased an early double-digit deficit.
Hawks 116, Bulls 92: Jamal Crawford scored 21 points, Josh Smith added 17 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, and visiting Atlanta beat Chicago for its fourth win in five games. Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 24 points despite missing most of the first quarter after hurting his right knee.
Rockets 116, Raptors 92: Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks scored 28 points each in three quarters and host Houston rolled to a win over struggling Toronto, which lost its fourth in a row. The Rockets led by 32 after three and both teams played mostly reserves the rest of the way.
Trail Blazers 103, Grizzlies 93: Brandon Roy scored 25 points and Nicolas Batum added 21 as visiting Portland erased a 14-point first-half deficit with a strong third quarter and defeated Memphis.
Clippers 108, Jazz 104: Eric Gordon scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Los Angeles nearly blew a 17-point lead in the final 6 1/2 minutes before beating visiting Utah, ending a six-game losing streak against the Jazz.
Magic 126, 76ers 105: Jameer Nelson had 22 points and 10 assists, and Orlando beat host Philadelphia. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis each scored 19 points for the Magic.