CLEVELAND (AP) – The franchise record of the New York Knicks franchise might have been the hardest to take.
The Knicks eliminated a 17-point deficit in the second half and had several chances to take the lead or tie the game at the last minute before bowing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-104 on Monday night.
"It's incredibly difficult," said goaltender Dennis Smith Jr. "Nobody wants to lose, especially 17 in a row. Tonight would have been important to us if we had removed it. "
Collin Sexton, who led Cleveland with 20 points, made two free throws in 17 seconds to give the Cavaliers three points.
John Jenkins missed a pointer to 3 on the right corner, but Smith grabbed the rebound and dribbled to the left corner. He also missed a 3-pointer and Larry Nance Jr. scored the rebound midway through time.
Luke Kornet, who hit a pair of 3 points in the right, missed an open 3 with 21 seconds to play, which would have given the Knicks an advantage.
"When you have a chance at the end, if you do not win, it hurts," said coach David Fizdale. "We had one shot – actually two – and we had the look we wanted. It just did not go down. And before that, one of our best shooters in Kornet really showcased us. "
Nance had 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson scored 15 points. Kevin Love had 14 points and nine rebounds in his second game since returning from a foot operation. The star striker played 16 minutes, all in the first period. Love was 4 out of 10 of the field, including two 3-pointers, and has nine rebounds.
Love played Friday against Washington after missing 50 games. He scored four points in six minutes of the first quarter.
"I felt like I was the last game without being able to open my lungs like tonight," said Love. "It was very nice to go out and have the feeling of having a rhythm."
Love said he thought he would play Wednesday against Brooklyn in the final Cleveland match before the All-Star break.
"He's doing some things that we really missed during his absence," said coach Larry Drew. "You can put it in the mail and he can make a shot and go to the free throw line. He goes to 3 against a bigger guy. It seems good. He moves very well. "
Kadeem Allen scored a career-high 25 points for the Knicks. New York (10-46) has the worst record in the league and has lost 25 of its 26 games and 30 of its last 32 games.
Cleveland (12-45) broke a series of four losses.
Kevin Knox scored 13 points while DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 10 rebounds for New York.
Both teams are vying for a top spot in the draw on May 14. The three worst teams in the league will have a 14% chance of getting the first pick in the repechage and a chance to grab Duke's center, Zion. Williamson.
Phoenix (11-47) and Chicago (13-44) are also possibilities for the top three choices.
The Cavaliers led by wire and took an 8-0 lead, which led Fizdale to use a timeout less than 90 seconds after the start of the game.
The Knicks, who traded injured star Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas on Jan. 31, have their longest skid in a season. New York has lost 20 straight games in two seasons, from March 23 to November 29. 9, 1985.
Knicks: Jenkins signed a 10-day contract earlier in the day. He scored seven points in nine minutes. .. G Emmanuel Mudiay (left shoulder stretched) and G Frank Ntilikina (groin groin) stay out.
Riders: F Tristan Thompson (left footed) will probably not play until the All-Star break. He missed the last 12 games. … Cedi Osman (sprained right ankle) was absent for the fourth straight game. …. C Ante Zizic (sore on the lower back) was a late scratch.
IT'S A LONG STREAK
The Knicks defeat gives them the 34th series of defeats of at least 17 games in NBA history and the longest skid since the previous game against the Memphis Grizzlies (19).
New York has not won since a 119-112 win over the Lakers on Jan. 4.
Cleveland won for the first time this season with Love on the floor. He played in the first four games of the 0 to 6 Cavaliers and came back for Friday's loss in Washington.
Knicks: Welcome Philadelphia Wednesday.
Riders: Greet Brooklyn on Wednesday.