Cavaliers end Knicks’ 8-game win streak
NEW YORK — The New York Knicks blew a 17-point, first-half lead and saw their eight-game winning streak halted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 106-100 defeat on Sunday that dealt a blow to their slim playoff chances.
The Knicks wasted a chance to pull within two games of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference before leaving for a five-game Western Conference trip on Tuesday. The Hawks lost earlier on Sunday to the Toronto Raptors 96-86.
“This was a huge opportunity lost, one we can’t afford,” Knicks guard J.R. Smith said. “But we can’t get it back. We’ve just got to go on the road, win some games and try to come back home and win.”
Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 31 points for the Cavaliers, who are also chasing the Hawks, though they are 5½ games back.
Carmelo Anthony finished with 32 points for the Knicks, but missed all five shots in the final period.
In other games, the Phoenix Suns made up ground in the race for the seventh and eighth playoff spots in the tight Western Conference, topping the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-120.
Markieff Morris scored 25 points off the bench to lead Phoenix to its biggest comeback of the season. Slovenian star Goran Dragic had 18.
The Suns pull within a half-game of Memphis and Dallas for one of the last two playoff spots in the West.
Kevin Love had 36 points and 14 rebounds, but committed a crucial turnover in the final minute in yet another tough home loss for the Timberwolves.
The Mavericks fell into the eighth spot in the West with a 107-104 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Joe Johnson scored 22 points, including the tying layup in regulation and the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime to lead Brooklyn past the Mavericks in Jason Kidd’s return to Dallas as a coach.
The Nets swept the two-game season series with Dallas in their first year under Kidd, who was point guard when the Mavericks won the 2011 NBA title.
The surging Nets, chasing the Raptors for the Atlantic Division title, won their fourth straight game.
The Raptors remained 1½ games head of the Nets with their win over the Hawks.
Kyle Lowry scored 25 points and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto.
Elsewhere, the Denver Nuggets beat the Washington Wizards 105-102, the Sacramento Kings topped the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks 124-107, and the Los Angeles Lakers picked up a rare win, defeating the Orlando Magic 103-94.
Steve Nash did not play for the Lakers, two days after recording 11 assists in 19 minutes off the bench against Washington. He had missed the previous 15 games because of chronic nerve damage in his back.