- Last Updated: 6:08 PM, February 28, 2011
- Posted: 1:20 AM, February 26, 2011
Two stars, no stops and no storybook ending in Cleveland last night. Carmelo Anthony fouled out and the new Knicks fouled up in a humbling 115-109 defeat to the wretched Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
Hold the championship parade. You can hear Knicks owner James Dolan groaning in New York and LeBron James licking his chops in South Beach, where the Knicks will face the Heat tomorrow night. The Anthony/Amar'e Stoudemire Knicks suffered a late defensive meltdown against the Cavs, who no longer boast James, are a pitiful 11-47 and played shorthanded because of yesterday's trade-deadline deal for the yet-to-arrive Baron Davis.
"This was a game, regardless of how long we've been together, we should have gotten," Anthony said.
After losing to the NBA's worst team, The 'Melo & 'Mar'e Show moves on to Miami, looking unprepared defensively for the 43-16 Dream Team. The Cavaliers have 11 wins -- two against the Knicks (29-27).
Anthony dazzled early, was hurt in the middle and disappeared late. Afterward, he said a lingering right elbow injury "flared up." Guess that didn't come up in Nuggets trade talks.
"I'm hurt, sore," Anthony said. "I'll be ready to go [Sunday]. The doctor took a look at it. It flared up a bit, there's a little swelling, but I'm familiar with it."
Anthony notched 16 points in the first quarter but sputtered with just 11 points through the last three and finished with 27. He also missed a key free throw with 25 seconds left that could have cut the deficit to two, and blamed it on not being able to lift the elbow properly. Amar'e Stoudemire's 31-point, 11-rebound, five-block performance went to waste.
The Knicks fed off the Garden electricity Wednesday, but couldn't summon anything in snowy Cleveland. And a scary buzzword was heard in the locker room -- uttered by Stoudemire, who said the club is in "training-camp mode."
"We have to be more scrappy, and have more fight in us because we're smaller," Mike D'Antoni said. "They hit big shots and we didn't stop them. We have to play harder and win these games."
D'Antoni said perhaps the club was "emotionally down" from Wednedsay's Garden high. Last night, the Knicks were massacred on the boards 62-42 -- a season high for Cleveland. Cavaliers power forward J.J. Hickson brutalized the Knicks inside for 24 points and 15 rebounds, as Cleveland actually found a team it could dominate inside -- which is why the Knicks plan to add 6-foot-11 Jared Jeffries to the roster Tuesday, after he clears waivers.
In a punishing blow, Hickson scored on his second putback attempt, giving the Cavaliers a 107-103 lead with 56 seconds left.
After Stoudemire scored inside to cut it to two, Gibson hit the game's dagger. He escaped Chauncey Billups on a screen and fired in a devastating 3-point bomb to put the Cavaliers ahead 110-105 lead with 31 seconds left.
Billups said it was a "miscommunication" between him and Stoudemire.
"Offensively, we'll probably be fine," Billups said. " Mike's system is awesome offensively. Defensively, the pick-and-roll hurt us tonight and rebounding destroyed us tonight. It's more chemistry than anything because everyone is playing hard [on defense]."
"They had more energy and got to loose balls," Stoudemire said. "Tonight we got outworked."
Anthony received a louder ovation from the Cleveland crowd than any of the Cavaliers' starters. There was a lot of cheers for the Knicks, and it appeared several hundred fans were decked in either No. 15 Nuggets' jersey or the brand-new No. 7 Knicks jerseys.
The Knicks trailed 92-80 early in the fourth before Billups led a wild charge back. Billups finished with 26 points, 20 in the fourth quarter, but he couldn't Ramon Sessions, who netted 22 points for Cleveland. Billups got the Knicks back to 96-93 when he drilled a 3-pointer in transition with 5:20 left, living up to his moniker of "Mr. Big Shot."
But there were no big stops in the end. The Knicks bench scored an embarrassing 12 points, a symptom of giving up too much size in the Anthony trade. "It's going to take us a little while," D'Antoni said.
It was surreal after one quarter. After all the talk about the stars sharing the ball, Anthony had 16 points to Stoudemire's zero.
Stoudemire, after missing his first five shots, did a lot his scoring with Anthony on the bench. Interesting.
But not as interesting as whether this trade made the Knicks too thin on the bench and too small up front to hold off the Sixers, one game behind, for the all-important sixth seed.
With Brian Dulik in Cleveland.Follow @NYPostsports