CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, 95-93, with Kevin Love driving the 3 train, Darius Garland showing his star power, Isaac Okoro playing gritty ball and Rajon Rondo having a solid debut to help lead the Cavs to a W.
Love was in the air
Love hit six of his 12 threes, with 20 total points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal.
A stretch in the third quarter saw Love hit back-to back-to-back threes— two of which were 25-footers and the third a deep 31-footer. Love made 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter alone. It was a boost the Cavs desperately needed after a rough stretch that saw the team missing their first six shots in the quarter.
Love's performance gave the Cavs a 76-69 lead going into the final quarter, helping them enter the final stretch with an advantage that ultimately paid off.
"We needed him to be big for us," head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "We needed every bucket we could get, especially in that time."
Garland continues to shine
Darius Garland had another impressive night, notching his fifth consecutive double-double Monday with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Garland has been proving himself as a true star in the league this season, finding opportunities for his teammates in any situation, facilitating the offense with ease and taking over when the team needs him most.
His efforts continued Monday, taking over the game down the final stretch.
With the game tied 91-91 and two minutes left to play, Garland hit a lethal three-pointer, staring down Knicks' Obi Toppin after drilling the shot. Giving the Cavs a lead they held for the final seconds, Garland once again showed his star power.
Rondo makes splash in first home game with Cleveland
The newest member of the Cavs made quite the splash Monday night in his home debut at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Rondo joined the Cavs on Jan. 3 following a three-team tradewith the Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers—brought in to help fill the gap left by Ricky Rubio, who suffered a season-ending knee injury after Collin Sexton suffered the same fate earlier in the season.
Making his debut for the Cavs during their six-game road trip, Rondo played three games before injuring his hamstring and being sidelined for the next six games. But Monday, Rondo returned to the court and played his first minutes in wine and gold at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse—and made the most of them.
Rondo's impact was felt nearly the moment he checked in for the first time, late in the first quarter, dropping a dime to Kevin Love on a 30-foot three-pointer. When he subbed back in mid-way through the second quarter, Rondo came to life.
Through the second quarter, Rondo put up two rebounds, a step back two, a 29-foot and a 25-foot three, a dime to Evan Mobley and a steal. Aside from the last-minute three-point attempt (which was unsuccessful), Rondo had a great first night playing as a Cav in Cleveland.
"Our guys have a ton of respect for him," Bickerstaff said."He's serious about his job, he's professional and you can feel it right away and guys respect that. And what I love about him is he's willing to share knowledge."
And while Rondo helped in Rubio and Sexton's absence on the court, Sexton was on the sidelines Monday, back with the team and bringing energy for his teammates all night.
Okoro, Wade fight hard
Throughout the night, Isaac Okoro played lights out, giving his all on both sides of the ball, especially defensively.
With 14 points, six rebounds and a block, Okoro played tough basketball and was +18 on the court through his 32 minutes.
"Isaac can shut down ISOs, catch and shoots...all those things," Bickerstaff said. "The way that he can guard is invaluable...but the activity and energy he brings to a game are things our team feeds off of...when he makes those plays, he uplifts everybody."
Love credited the win to Okoro's efforts and praised the growth he's made this season alone.
"Between him and Dean [Wade], those guys won us the game," Love said. "He gets offensive rebounds, he puts a ton of pressure on teams when we're on the break...I think he was great for us tonight...he just did everything well...there's a lot of things he does well and he just continues to grow in the space that he's in."
Wade also made his impact felt Monday, putting up 13 points and three steals and making four of his seven three-point attempts.
Those final seconds also saw Evan Mobley step up, putting defensive pressure on the Knicks, grabbing rebounds left and right. While he missed some free throws, Mobley's 15 points and 12 rebounds were crucial for the Cavs.
The rookie has been stellar this season, earning contention for Rookie of the Year while averaging 15 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
"You see the potential and where he can go," Love said.
The Cavs were without Jarrett Allen, who was out with illness, as well as Lauri Markkanen, who is expected to miss several games with an ankle sprain sustained in Saturday's game against the Thunder. But the rest of the team banded together and pulled out a win.
"It's not about individuals accomplishments for us," head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game.
Cleveland will look to improve on their free-throw shooting after missing eight of their 20 shots from the line. Love called the recent struggles at the line a "fluke" and they feel it's just about settling down and feeling their shot.
The Cavs will take Tuesday off before hosting the Bucks Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.