Jalen Brunson produced 21 points and six assists to help the host New York Knicks register a convincing 99-79 victory over the cold-shooting Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of its Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday night.
RJ Barrett registered 19 points and eight rebounds and Josh Hart added 13 points and six rebounds as New York took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Julius Randle contributed 11 points and eight rebounds despite 3-of-15 shooting, and Immanuel Quickley also scored 11 points.
Donovan Mitchell recorded 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Caris LeVert added 17 points for the Cavaliers, who shot just 38.8 per cent from the field, including a woeful 7 of 33 (21.2 per cent) from behind the arc.
Darius Garland scored 10 points on 4-of-21 shooting and Evan Mobley had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which committed 21 turnovers.
Game 4 is Sunday in New York.
Game 3 represented quite a turnaround for New York, which trailed by as many as 29 points during a 107-90 Game 2 loss in Cleveland on Tuesday. This time, the Knicks led by as many as 27.
New York shot 47 per cent from the field in Game 3 and made 10 of 33 (30.3 percent) from 3-point range.
Cleveland scored just 32 first-half points. The Cavaliers shot 31 per cent in the half and were 2 of 19 (10.5 percent) from 3-point range.
Cleveland trailed 72-55 after three quarters and was unable to mount a comeback.
The Cavaliers were down by 15 before New York’s Obi Toppin scored the first six points of an 11-2 burst that elevated the Knicks’ lead to 88-64 with 6:28 remaining.
Both teams struggled in an opening quarter that concluded in a 17-17 tie. New York shot 26.1 percent in the period and the Cavaliers made 33.3 percent.
The Knicks began playing better in the second quarter and used a 15-3 surge to open up a 38-27 lead with 3:43 left in the half. Mitchell Robinson and Brunson completed the run with dunks.
New York held a 45-32 advantage at the break behind 14 points from Barrett. Mitchell had 12 in the half for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers showed some life in the third quarter and moved within 64-55 on Mitchell’s basket with 2:18 left. But Hart answered with a 3-pointer 15 seconds later to start a quarter-ending 8-0 run as the Knicks took a 17-point lead into the fourth.
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