With a 9-point lead and less than four minutes left, the Knicks looked set to make their way to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
But the Cleveland Cavaliers did not want to be part of it. They used a 12-0 deficit to defeat their deficit and a 125-118 win on Thursday night. The Knicks, who had won two consecutive games, have now lost 10 losses against the Madison Square Garden Cavaliers and 15 out of 18 against all.
Kevin Love led Cleveland with 26 points. Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton each had 22 and Cedi Osman added 21, as the Cavaliers (15-47) avoided landing in the basement alongside the Knicks (13-49).
"When we share the ball, it's fun to be out there," Sexton said. "We were down in the fourth quarter and we all got together to say," We have to win that. "
Allonzo Trier had 22 points for the Knicks, who led by 14 early in the fourth quarter and were ahead, 113-104, after Kevin Knox's jumper at 3 minutes and 51 seconds.
But the three points of Sexton and his layup reduced Cleveland's deficit to 113-109. After Knox followed with two free throws, the Cavaliers scored the next 12 points.
"We always felt we were in the game," said Love.
The Knicks led by 9 points in the second quarter. Ante Zizic let slip a lead of 20-10, leaving 3:07 to make in the first period, which gave the Cavaliers a first lead of 51-50.
Mitchell Robinson's dunk alley-oop gave the Knicks a 59-57 lead at half-time. Dennis Smith Jr., who finished with 16 points, took the lead to 97-85 on a four-point game with 3 seconds remaining in the third and Damyean Dotson took the lead to 14 by opening the final quarter with a basket.
"With the difficulties we had this year and what we had to face from the injury standpoint, being behind the players, any win is a good win," said Cavaliers coach Larry Drew .
Noah Vonleh finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Henry Ellenson scored 13 points, Robinson 12 and Emmanuel Mudiay and Lance Thomas scored 10 each.
"We totally let go of our feet. we have become casual, "said Knicks coach David Fizdale. "We got up at 10 and decided not to come back in defense. We were a little full of thinking we had the game. They made us pay for it. "