Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 31 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers won 106-100 Sunday night to end the eight-game winning streak of the New York Knicks, who wasted a chance to pull within two games of a playoff spot.
Hours after being handed a chance to get closer to the final spot in the Eastern Conference when Atlanta blew a fourth-quarter lead in Toronto, the Knicks responded with an inept final period of their own after they led by 17 points in the first half.
They couldn’t stop Jack and couldn’t get a basket from Carmelo Anthony, who missed all five shots in the final period and finished with 32 points.
Jack scored 23 in the second half and finished with 10 assists for the Cavaliers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Dion Waiters scored 22 points and Luol Deng had 13 in his return from a three-game absence with a sprained left ankle for the Cavs, who didn’t miss All-Star Kyrie Irving because Jack torched the Knicks for 13 points in the fourth quarter.
New York was missing ailing Iman Shumpert, their best perimeter defender who surely would’ve gotten a chance to defend Jack since nobody else could.
The Knicks leave for a five-game Western Conference trip that begins Tuesday against the Lakers.
Down 61-46 at halftime, Cleveland scored the first nine of the second half to get within six, and the Knicks never really got the momentum back.
The Cavs used an 11-4 spurt to tie it at 90 on Jack’s jumper with 7:29 remaining, then Deng’s 3-pointer gave them a 93-92 edge with 5:46 to play.