NEW YORK — The difference wasn’t Donovan Mitchell. It was Julius Randle.
Behind a 36-point, 13-rebound effort from Randle, the Knicks avoided a fourth-quarter collapse Tuesday and toppled the Cavaliers, 105-103, snapping their four-game losing streak.
Randle was one of the late-game heroes with a go-ahead 3-pointer with two minutes remaining, and Isaiah Hartenstein stopped a game-tying bucket by contesting Mitchell at the rim in the final seconds.
Mitchell, the All-Star who the Knicks failed to acquire in the summer, finished with 24 points in 38 minutes on 9 of 24 shooting.
The Knicks (26-23) shot 17 from 33 from beyond the arc. They won their first game since center Mitchell Robinson suffered a broken thumb.
The dramatic ending Tuesday occurred because the Knicks squandered an 11-point advantage in the fourth quarter. Then with a chance to put the game away, RJ Barrett air-balled a wide-open trey with 15 seconds left.
That set up Cleveland’s final possession with a two-point deficit. Mitchell drove into the paint and was met at the rim by Hartenstein, who did enough without fouling to maintain the lead. Mitchell grabbed his own rebound and threw it out to Evan Mobley, who missed a turnaround at the buzzer.
Mitchell appeared to injure his leg on the play and limped off the court.
Immanuel Quickley returned to the rotation after missing Sunday’s loss in Toronto with a sore knee. He logged 27 minutes with nine points..
Evan Fournier, meanwhile, was unavailable for personal reasons – the birth of his son. He wouldn’t have played anyway with Quickley healthy.