Basketball

Second unit lifts Knicks to comeback win vs Cavs

Jeremy Lin was given a helping hand by fellow point guard Baron Davis as the New York Knicks made good use of their newly discovered depth to roar past the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-103 on Wednesday.

The Knicks trailed by as many as 17 points in the second quarter and were a dozen behind at halftime before getting a lift from their second wave of players, who helped carry the New Yorkers to a victory that evened up their record at 18-18.

“I think our second unit did an awesome job,” Lin told reporters. “Baron and (Steve) Novak. We’ve been talking a lot about that and tonight we were definitely able to see the depth we have can be a strength of ours.”

Lin finished with 19 points, 13 assists and only one turnover, while Davis, recently returned from a back injury, contributed eight assists without a turnover and helped ignite the comeback.

Long-range shooting specialist Novak poured in five three-pointers in the second-half uprising and finished with 17 points in just 18 minutes on the court.

“We did a good job of sharing the ball, trying to stay wide, keep our spacing,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni added. “When we did do that, good things did happen. It just makes the game really easy.”

The Knicks trailed 61-49 at the intermission but came out firing in the third quarter with the team’s second unit taking charge.

Novak whipped the Madison Square Garden crowd into a frenzy with a string of three-pointers and a swarming defense created turnovers that led to easy baskets.

A 10-2 run brought New York within 63-59, and they went on to seize an 82-80 lead after three quarters before stretching the advantage to 17 by the final buzzer with their highest total of the season.

Six of the 10 Knicks that played scored in double figures, topped by Carmelo Anthony’s 22 points.

Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 23 points, with 19-year-old rookie point guard Kyrie Irving scoring 22 points with seven assists.

“We gave up 71 points in the second half,” bemoaned Cavs coach Byron Scott, whose club lost a close game to the Celtics in Boston on Tuesday. “They came out more aggressive and we melted.”

Standing tall on the defensive end for New York was center Tyson Chandler, who hauled down 15 rebounds and blocked four shots to go with his 13 points. Chandler said the Knicks’ bench made the difference.

“This kind of shows what this team is made of,” Chandler said. “We fed off their energy.”

Novak said New York’s depth made the difference.

“Getting a lot of guys healthy, a lot of guys coming back,” Novak said. “We just need to come together so we can make a push for the playoffs.”

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