New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets

Knicks coach Woodson chooses Slava Kravstov to shoot free throws after Markieff Morris is ejected (VIDEO)


NEW YORK — Entertaining moment early in the second quarter on Monday during the Knicks’ 98-96 overtime win over the Suns.

Markieff Morris received his second technical foul of the game for shoving J.R. Smith following an inadvertent shot to the face he received while attempting a shot.

A second technical is an automatic ejection, and since Morris was supposed to head to the line for two free throws, we got to witness a rare occurrence. NBA rules state that if the player shooting the free throws can’t, for whatever reason (including injury), then the opposing team’s head coach gets to choose any player on the active roster to complete the task.

Mike Woodson seemed to be fairly excited about getting to do this, and the crowd in attendance at Madison Square Garden shared in his glee. Woodson took his time before settling on Slava Kravstov, who has played the least minutes for the Suns this season, and was tied with the similarly seldom-used Alex Len for lowest free throw percentage on the team, having made two of his four attempts on the season.

The fans cheered wildly as Kravstov entered the game, and were just as loud in expressing their disappointment when the first free throw bounced around the rim before it eventually dropped through. The second one was missed just as Woodson had hoped, however, and the loud cheering immediately resumed.

Kravstov was subbed out after a stoppage on the ensuing possession, and received a huge round of applause as he headed to the bench.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done that as a head coach,” Woodson said afterward. “I think it’s the first time I’ve done that, when a guy got ejected and I had to pick a player.”

Woodson wasn’t exactly up to speed on the free throw percentages of the players at the end of his opponent’s bench, so he deferred to his assistants to make that decision.

“I turned to my staff, they keep me abreast on who (I should choose),” he said. “And the kid makes one out of the two, so it worked to our advantage a little bit.”

In a game that went to overtime before the Knicks eventually won by two points, every advantage helps.

What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers finishes off a fast break with a dunk in the third quarter as Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks watches on October 25, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated New York 117-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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There’s a good reason LeBron James has been to six straight NBA Finals. It’s not all about his incredible physical gifts. It’s not about the quality of his teammates.

It’s about will.

On a night when a lot of teams play like their hungover — the night they get their championship rings and a banner is raised to the rafters — LeBron played harder than anyone and pulled his team along.

LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.

But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.

Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.

After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.

The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.

In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.

Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.

For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.

Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.


LeBron James isn’t the only story out of the NBA season opener — Kyrie Irving had 29 points, Kevin Love had 23, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose were shotmaking.

But mostly, LeBron James was dunking. And racking up a triple-double (19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds). But mostly just dunking. Like you see above. Or there is this alley-oop.

Or, there was this putback throwdown.

And we can throw in a block on Courtney Lee just for fun.

Cavaliers moving ball, LeBron James dunking in season opener

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers were not in mid-season form on opening night — they started the game 3-of-12 from the floor and were 4-of-21 from three in the first half.

But they were showing flashes.

Like the LeBron James dunk above. Or this stretch of ball movement below.

The Cavaliers led the Knicks 48-45 at the half.

Watch LeBron James’ speech after getting his ring in Cleveland


“At this point, if you’re not from here, live here, play here, dedicate yourself to Cleveland, then it makes no sense for you to live at this point — Cleveland against the world!”

And with that, the Q went nuts.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers got their rings and raised a banner in Cleveland — the first title banner in that city in 52 seasons (although the Indians are trying to have their say on the matter across the street). It was emotional for everyone in the building, and particularly the hometown boy LeBron.

Check out the full ring ceremony.