Hartenstein Game Ball. Knicks 109 Cleveland 91 in Cleveland

Isaiah Hartenstein came off the bench to play a big man game — ripping down rebounds, blocking shots, ripping the ball out of other players hands without fouling, scoring inside with a variety of acrobatic moves — to be a key fulcrum in the Knicks 109-91 stomping of the Cavaliers in Cleveland on a Tuesday, Halloween night.

Hartenstein had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, and an assist for a +13 in 23 minutes off the bench.

The Knicks played well as a team — Mitchell Robinson also beasted when he was in, RJ Barrett was hitting his shot, Jalen Brunson was Jalen Brunson, Immanuel Quickley provided 18 points off the bench, Donte DiVincenzo looked good, and Julius Randle took charge offensively at key periods of the game.

Most importantly, the Knicks laid down a DEFENSE in the 3rd quarter that had Cleveland stuck on 59 points for the middle 4 minutes of the period as NY took a 16 point lead. The Cavaliers were without Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.

“The luxury that we have is that we have 2 great bigs that any night one guy can step up,” said Hartenstein afterwards. “My part is to be mentally and physically ready every game. This year I feel more healthy; I feel I got my offensive game back; I just want to keep building on it, and keep helping this team win.”

1. Knicks Take 6 Pt Lead at Half

The Knicks took down Cleveland in last year’s playoffs and seem to have a psychological edge as the better team. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are still licking their wounds after having been outplayed by Mitchell Robinson in last year’s playoffs, and the Knicks defense knows it can stifle Cleveland’s high-scoring back court of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland.

It didn’t help that Garland and Allen were out. Max Struss formerly of Miami is on Cleveland now and he played well in this game.

NY took a 4-pt lead in the first quarter and then the 2nd team — which hurt Cleveland in last year’s playoffs — took it to them again — with Isiah Hartenstein the key player on this night, and Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, newcomer Donte DiVincenzo and RJ Barrett taking it to Cleveland to build a 10-pt lead midway thru the 2nd period.

RJ was hitting his shot; DiVincenzo was playing torrid defense and moving the ball on offense, Hart was doing Hart things — defense and rebounding — and Isaiah Hartenstein was everywhere inside: offensive rebounds and put backs, scores, defensive rebounds and blocks — playing awesome basketball.

“Isaiah Hartenstein impacts the game with activity, effort and toughness,” noted NBA analyst Ross Kreines. “He sets hard screens, gets 50/50 balls, finds the open man, defends, finds a body when a shot goes up on the defensive glass and uses his lower body/positioning and outworks you on offensive glass. Always engaged.”

Cleveland came back at the end of the 2nd period, but as the half came to a close, Julius Randle took over — bodying up inside for some patented power drives.

2. Knicks DEFENSE Takes Over in the 3rd

The score was 58-52 as the 3rd period began — and the Knicks laid down the hammer on DEFENSE. On offense Randle and Brunson kept driving to the bucket and picking up fouls, getting to the line where they hit their free throws.

When Isiah Hartenstein made 2 free throws with 4:10 left in the quarter, NY was up 75-59. Cleveland had scored 7 points in the period.

Finally Donovan Mitchell broke free for a 3 and a drive to pull Cleveland within 12 — but Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Immanuel Quickley answered and NY took an 18-pt lead into the 4th.

3. Knicks Cruise in the 4th

A basketball game is never over until it’s over — as we saw last year when the Knicks blew a 13-pt lead in the final minute. But in this one the Knicks pretty much cruised in the 4th — with coach Tom Thibodeau emptying the bench with 2:50 left and the Knicks up 106-88.

The Boxscore



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