The Associated PressNEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James got shoved by the Knicks and then benched by his coach.
Neither could keep him down for good.
James had 23 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, Kyle Korver scored 19 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to spark a huge comeback, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat New York 104-101 on Monday night.
James also had a technical foul after a first-quarter altercation with Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter, which seemed to charge up the Knicks. But he didn’t lose his poise then or midway through the third quarter, when Tyronn Lue yanked the five starters with the Knicks on their way to a 23-point lead.
“I knew we had another half,” James said. “Didn’t know that I was going to get snatched like that early in the third, but I felt if I got back in I could still make some plays to help our team win.”
He did, hitting two of the Cavaliers’ nine 3-pointers in the fourth after they made just seven through three quarters and helping the Cavs charge back for their eighth straight victory at Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland outscored New York 43-25 in the fourth, making more 3s than the Knicks had baskets (8). But the turnaround started late in the third with the second unit in.
“Now we just kept talking about chipping away, chipping away,” Dwyane Wade said. “And then as you saw Kyle Korver got going and then when you saw LeBron check back in, you knew, OK. You saw the waves coming.”
The game was just two days after James, following a victory in Dallas, said Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. should be a Knick. The Knicks passed on Smith in the draft, taking Ntilikina one spot earlier at No. 8.
James said he meant it as a shot at former president Phil Jackson, and he was angry that he thought Kanter overreacted in his defense of Ntilikina. So it wasn’t surprising they were involved in an altercation late in the first quarter.
James dunked and then wouldn’t move out of the way as Ntilikina tried to take the ball back to the baseline to throw it in. Ntilikina pushed James, who then exchanged words with Kanter after he ran in.