Carmelo, Knicks Fall Flat in Cleveland

Carmelo Anthony left with a sore elbow and a bruised ego.

His second game with the New York Knicks was embarrassing. Playing the final quarter with numbness in his right elbow, Anthony missed a key late free throw and fouled out of his first road game with the Knicks, who took Cleveland too lightly and were beaten 115-109 on Friday night by the fired-up Cavaliers.

Anthony, acquired earlier this week from Denver in a blockbuster trade, finished with 27 points but missed a foul shot with 25 seconds left that would have brought New York within two.

Afterward, he said he banged his elbow in the second half and that it has been bothering him for some time.

"I don't like to make any excuses, this was a game, regardless of how long we've been together, that we should have got,'' said Anthony, who had a gauze wrap on his elbow. "It comes down to everybody being on the same page defensively. "We've only had four practices to get it together.

"No excuses.''

Amar'e Stoudemire had 31 points and Chauncey Billups, the other guy in the Anthony deal, scored 20 of his 26 in the fourth trying to rally the Knicks, who have dropped 10 straight to Cleveland.

Antawn Jamison scored 28, J.J. Hickson had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Ramon Sessions added 22 points for the Cavs, who have beaten New York twice this season. Anthony Parker scored 16 for Cleveland, which has won three of five since ending a record 26-game losing streak.

"I put all the credit with that on the coaching,'' joked Cavs coach Byron Scott.

The Knicks weren't laughing.

They must have been reading their press clippings following a tsunami of publicity in recent days after finally landing Anthony, the Brooklyn-born superstar. His arrival had even the most cynical New York fans finally believing pro basketball was all the way back in the Big Apple.

Not quite.

The new-look Knicks are a work in progress. Their talent is undeniable, but they don't have any chemistry and it could take some time for it develop. At times, Anthony and Stoudemire seemed to be playing on different teams. There was little ball movement as the Knicks seemed content to launch shots and hope they'd drop.

But the bigger problems were on defense. The Knicks got lost on pick-and-rolls and were unsure of what to do when switching assignments.

"Defensively, we've got a long ways to go,'' Stoudemire said.

"It takes time. It's training-camp mode again.''

The Cavaliers came in with the league's worst record, but they were the ones who looked like a team with playoff potential as they consistently outworked the Knicks for loose balls. Cleveland outrebounded New York 62-42, an inexcusable stat for the Knicks.

"They played harder,'' Stoudemire said. "They had a great amount of energy. We got outworked.'' Cleveland didn't even have its newest star, point guard Baron Davis, who has yet to arrive after being obtained in a deadline day deal from the Los Angeles Clippers. But as the Cavs were putting the Knicks away in the fourth, Davis did check in on his Twitter account.

"Loving the energy I'm seeing,'' he wrote.

If not for Billups, who was saddled with three quick fouls in the first half, the Knicks would have really been embarrassed.

Mr. Big Shot made plenty of them, scoring 20 of New York's 28 points in one stretch. His layup with 1:17 left pulled the Knicks within 105-103 and Stoudemire's bucket made it 107-105 with 49 seconds to go.

But that's when Cleveland's Daniel Gibson hit the game's biggest shot, drilling a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining. Billups said he shouldn't have switched on a screen and gotten out on Gibson but didn't.

Anthony, who had 16 points in the first quarter, was quiet in the fourth before driving the lane, hitting a runner and picking up a foul with 25.8 seconds left. Anthony, though, missed his free throw and then picked up his sixth personal trying to wrestle the ball away from Sessions.

Anthony then spent the final seconds on the bench as Sessions made five free throws in the last 24 seconds to ice it for Cleveland.

The Knicks' medical staff checked Anthony's elbow after the game. Anthony said it "flared up and had a little swelling'' but that he expects to play in Sunday's game at Miami. At the moment, he doesn't have any tests scheduled on his injury.

"Right now, I don't have any time for testing,'' he said.

"It's time for me to play basketball and go out there and get some wins.''

The Knicks haven't had very much practice time since Anthony arrived, and coach Mike D'Antoni has been trying to work out the kinks as players get accustomed to each other. D'Antoni hasn't had enough time to fully open his expansive offensive playbook.

"There is a learning curve and you can't get around it,'' D'Antoni said. ``We know it and we know it's going to take us a little while.''

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