Knicks Win ‘Feels Good,’ But They Say Plenty of Work Remains

CLEVELAND — Power forward Julius Randle got things started and guard Jalen Brunson finished it. In the end, the Knicks emerged with a 101-97 win over the Cavaliers in Game 1 of their first-round series.Jalen Brunson

And when it came to Randle (19 points) and Brunson (27, including 21 in the second half), swingman Josh Hart clearly was not surprised.

“Obviously those are our guys, and we rely on them heavily on both sides of the ball,” Hart told reporters. “For [Randle], his first game back, I’m not sure what he did on the offensive side, but he was rebounding the ball, contesting shots.

“Him and obviously [Brunson] just controlling the tempo, getting us into our sets, doing those kinds of things that sometimes don’t show up in the box score. Having them both back, and us being at full strength, it feels good.”

While Brunson, Randle and Hart (17 points, 10 rebounds) were the heroes, the Knicks truly did receive contributions from just about everyone. They’ll need more of that to keep their good start to the series going, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested.

“To be able to depend on each other is so important,” he said. “We need everyone, so everyone has to be willing to sacrifice and put everything they have into it and just find a way to win.”

On this night, the Knicks were just tougher, out-rebounding the Cavs by a 51-38 count. That included 17 boards on the offensive end.

You do that, you’ll presumably make quick work of the series.

Now, all New York needs to do is figure out a way to slow down Cavs star guard Donovan Mitchell, who finished with 38 points, and almost single-handedly led his team to a come-from-behind win.

“The thing is, we obviously have to do better (defending Mitchell),” Thibodeau said. “He’s a tough cover. We know we’re gonna have to be tougher.”

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