Randy Wittman attacked New York's weak point early with his strongest weapon all-star forward Shawn Kemp.
Kemp scored 25 points and put the Knicks' already depleted front line in foul trouble with a variety of inside moves to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 102-93 victory Saturday night.
"We knew New York does not like to double team down low and we wanted to find out who had the advantage," said Wittman, the Cavaliers' first-year coach. "Going down low to Shawn was by design."
"These guys were a little upset with how we played in New York," Wittman said. "I know they were fired up before the game.
"The key was we came out with defensive intensity, limited them to one shot and got out and ran."
Cleveland had 26 fast-break points to 4 for New York.
"We have a lot more freedom on the court, no doubt about that," Kemp said about Cleveland's change in style from the slow-down game of former coach Mike Fratello. "A lot of teams have not seen us run. We might catch a few teams off guard. We're going to get out and run, be aggressive."
Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell each scored 22 points for the Knicks, who had won their first three games this season, and John Wallace had 18. The Knicks were without power forward Larry Johnson, sidelined by back spasms, and veteran center Patrick Ewing, who has yet to play this season because of problems with his left Ahilles' tendon.
"This was a game about mental toughness for both teams," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Both teams were playing four (games) in five nights and they were just tougher than we were tonight."
Cleveland used a 16-2 run over a four-minute span to close the third quarter and open the fourth to turn a 68-67 deficit into an 83-70 lead.
"We got out and ran," Knight said. "We love to run, that's our best chance. When we slow down, we get in trouble."
Kemp made 13 of 14 free throws in the first quarter as Cleveland took a 37-26 lead. Charlie Ward hit three 3-pointers to keep New York close.
"I don't know what Kemp was doing effectively, but I know we couldn't touch him," Knicks center Marcus Camby said. "He did a real good job of initiating contact and getting that whistle."
New York rallied behind Houston's nine-point second quarter. The Knicks got within 52-49 with 1:19 left in the first half. Then Kurt Thomas was called for a foul on Andrew DeClercq, argued with referee Ron Olesiak, and was ejected.
Ferry made both technical free throws and DeClercq made one of his two to help the Cavs hold off the Knicks' charge. Cleveland led 55-50 at halftime.
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