Knicks fans were booing LeBron James from the opening tip Monday night. Which was silly. LeBron’s comments about the Knicks passing on Dennis Smith Jr. in the draft were an obvious shot at Phil Jackson — and taking shots at Jackson is a favorite past time of Knicks fans. But some tried to spin it as a dig at Frank Ntilikina, the guy Jackson drafted in front of Smith, and Enes Kanter came to his teammate’s defense off the court. Even though it was clear to every thinking person before, LeBron clarified his shot was at Jackson.
Monday night, Kanter came to Ntilikina’s defense when LeBron, after a dunk, didn’t make a move to step around Ntilikina and ran into the rookie. LeBron and Kanter jawed, LeBron pushed Kanter off him, and they both got technicals for their trouble.
That exchange lit a fire under the crowd in Madison Square Garden, who got fully into the game and let LeBron really hear it then.
The Cavaliers scored just 13 points in the second quarter, to the Knicks’ 29, and it gave New York a healthy lead it carried into the fourth quarter.