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Cleveland‚ OH (Sports Network) - Amar'e Stoudemire was the key to a second- half comeback for the New York Knicks‚ who overcame a miserable start to take a 102-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Stoudemire tied a season-high with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and was forced to play over his 30-minute cap limit in the absence of Carmelo Anthony‚ who exited with a knee injury in the second quarter.
New York was also aided by some timely 3-point shooting‚ converting 7-for-11 from long distance in the final quarter to overcome a 22-point deficit earlier in the game and end a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland.
Steve Novak and Jason Kidd combined for seven triples and scored 15 and 12 points‚ respectively‚ while J.R. Smith chipped in 18 points to help the Knicks rebound from their loss to Miami on Sunday.
It was a tale of two halves for the Cavaliers‚ who shot just 31.4 percent over the final two quarters after converting an insane 68.4 percent by halftime.
"I thought the first half‚ our guys played extremely hard‚" said Cavs coach Byron Scott. "I don't know if it caught up with us in the second half‚ but we didn't have the same energy."
Marreese Speights scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving returned from a three-game absence to finish with 22.
Rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller both missed the contest for Cleveland with illnesses.
New York's defense was blatantly non-existent through the first 24 minutes‚ but it made a conscious effort to lock down in the second half.
After a 17-4 run to close out the first half brought them within 61-49‚ the Knicks held Cleveland without a basket for the first six minutes of the third quarter and began the period on a 10-0 surge to pull within two.
"We just had to focus‚ we took a gut check‚" said Tyson Chandler‚ who had eight points and nine boards for New York. "We started executing defensively and offensively‚ pushed the tempo and forced them into some tough shots. We just gave them way too many easy shots to start the game."
The Cavaliers were a miserable 4-for-18 for the frame‚ but were able to hold a 74-70 edge to start the fourth before the Knicks finally jumped ahead at the 9:08 mark after back-to-back three's from Pablo Prigioni and Novak.
The Knicks were just 5-for-19 from long distance through the first three quarters‚ but they became deadly from beyond the arc in the final period. Novak added another and Raymond Felton followed with one of his own before Kidd buried a pair of triples to extend New York's advantage to 97-91 with 1:36 to play.
Four straight points from the Cavs had them back within two‚ but Stoudemire -- who had 12 points in the second half -- refused to be denied as he battled underneath the hoop to scoop in a right-handed reverse layup on the ensuing possession for a 99-95 advantage.
Cleveland had a chance after Kidd made just 1-of-2 from the free throw line with six seconds left to put the Cavs down by three‚ but Irving's attempt to tie the game was denied by Chandler‚ who swatted away his 3-point try.
Smith then sank a pair from the free throw line to seal the win.
Speights had 21 of his points on a perfect 10-for-10 shooting in the first half‚ where Cleveland made 22 of its first 27 shots to jump out to a 52-30 lead less than five minutes into the second quarter.
Shortly after‚ Anthony tripped over himself near midcourt and bent his knee awkwardly. He got up immediately‚ but headed straight for the locker room and did not return.