Garden Was Eden Again: Knicks Make History in Game 3 Rout of Cavs

Madison Square Garden, Knicks

Getty Electric atmosphere at Madison Square Garden.

The New York Knicks roared back in Game 3 with a suffocating defense and a scintillating offense in the second half to grab a 2-1 series lead in the first round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs after a 99-79 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

It was a throwback game to the 90s, with the Knicks’ defense holding the Cavaliers to under 80 points, the first time it happened this season. The Cavaliers’ 32 points in the first half tied a franchise playoff low. Interestingly, their other 32-point first-half stinker came against the Knicks in Game 3 of the 1996 first round of the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The Cavaliers also dropped to 24-2 when holding opponents under 100 points this season. Both losses are at the hands of the Knicks — a 92-81 loss on Dec. 4, which turned the Knicks’ season around and Game 3.

The soldout Garden crowd was so loud. The young and inexperienced Cavaliers got rattled.

“I think early on it was the nerves,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “As the game progressed, it was about trust more than anything. Then we stopped trusting & doing the right thing. We stopped trusting & doing the right thing.”

“Give [the Knicks] credit,” Bickerstaff added. “They made the adjustment. During the game, they found their footing. They got comfortable and rode the momentum of the home crowd.”

Darius Garland was held to seven points on a 3-of-9 shooting after his 32-point explosion in Game 2.

Donovan Mitchell, who played his first playoff game in his hometown, had 22 points on 19 shots.

Jalen Brunson Goes off in MSG Playoff Debut

Jalen Brunson waltzed his way to 21 points on a 10-of-18 shooting night in his playoff debut at Madison Square Garden. He also had four rebounds and six assists.

His fastbreak dunk in the second quarter had Knicks legends Bernard King and John Starks up on their feet.

Brunson teamed up with his former Villanova teammate Josh Hart in the Knicks’ breakaway in the second half. The duo combined for 24 of the Knicks’ 54 second-half points.

RJ Barrett Bounces Back

After struggling for just 6-for-25 on the floor in Cleveland during the series’ first two games, RJ Barrett bounced back with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also added eight rebounds and three assists in quickly his best game of the playoffs.

He aggressively attacked the paint and hit his strides from the outside.

“I just worked on it,” Barrett said during his postgame interview.

Barrett was 3-for-6 from the 3-point territory after going 1-for-8 in Games 1 and 2.

He picked up the scoring slack in the first half with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting as Julius Randle and Brunson struggled early on. The Knicks’ 1-2 punch was a combined 5-for-18 in the opening half.

Barrett’s bounce-back game helped the Knicks build a 45-32 halftime lead in the low-scoring game. He fed off the energy of the 19,812 Garden crowd.

“It’s the Garden, man! What can I say? It was loud. It was fun to play in, man! As a basketball player, you grew up thinking of moments like this. It was electric in there,” Barrett said.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Knicks as Game 4 is scheduled on Sunday at 1 p.m.





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