The Cavs look to move closer to a top seed in the playoffs Wednesday when they visit the struggling Knicks.
This is the second meeting between these clubs in less than a week. Cleveland routed New York 90-68 at home on Friday behind 21 points and 10 assists from James.
Eddy Curry had 27 points and nine rebounds in that contest for the Knicks, who made just half (12 of 24) of their free throws and scored a season low. New York is 1-2 in the season series with Cleveland, including a 102-96 defeat Nov. 13 at Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland (43-28) clinched its second consecutive postseason berth with Tuesday’s 105-94 win over Indiana. The Cavaliers, who are 2-3 since a season-high eight-game winning streak, are in second place in both the Central Division and the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind Detroit.
LeBron James had 26 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas chipped in 23 for the Cavaliers, who opened a five-game road trip with a victory. James, who was coming off an 18-point performance in Sunday’s 105-93 loss to Denver, had kicked coach Mike Brown out of a team meeting earlier Tuesday.
“This is my team, that’s my responsibility to make sure everyone’s on course,” James said. “There can be a lot of distractions on a five-game road trip.”
Brown didn’t mind that his star player decided to take charge.
“If you have a team that decides to take ownership of what they’re doing, then the sky’s the limit,” Brown said.
The Knicks (30-40), meanwhile, are in 10th place in the East, two games behind New Jersey for the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. They have dropped four straight and six of seven, including Monday’s 94-89 loss to Orlando.
The loss was also the third straight at home for New York, which fell a season-worst 10 games under .500.
Stephon Marbury scored a game-high 32 points and Eddy Curry chipped in 17, but no other New York player scored in double digits. Randolph Morris, who signed with the Knicks on Friday less than a week after playing in the NCAA tournament for Kentucky, did not play.
“I am still focused on the big picture. I think we played better than how we played in Cleveland,” Marbury said.
“The injuries are the injuries,” forward Jared Jeffries told the Knicks’ official Web site. “There’s nothing you can do about them. You could say a lot of things about that but, the fact is, we are playing with what we have right now, and we’ve just got to do a better job.”