Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng returned from a sprained ankle in fine fashion during the team's 106-100 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden Sunday night.
Deng limited Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony to eight of 20 from the field, forced him into three turnovers and a minus-eight during his time on the floor, which meant the Cavaliers outscored New York by eight points when Anthony was on the court.
"I thought that Luol (did well) in the second half against 'Melo," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said following the game. "For the most part, we tried to play him straight up as much as possible so that he wouldn't find guys because he's a big guy and he can pass over the top of a lot of double teams. Luol did a nice job of just making him work.
"I've got to give Luol credit. Luol did a nice job of making 'Melo work, especially in the fourth quarter."
Deng returned to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a sprained ankle. He suffered the injury in Cleveland's 102-80 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center last Sunday.
After missing home games against the Miami Heat Tuesday, Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday and Houston Rockets on Saturday, Deng returned to the lineup against a Knicks squad that bested the Cavaliers, 107-97, at Quicken Loans Arena two weeks ago.
Because of the missed time, Brown said he did not know what to expect from Deng, "especially on the defensive end of the floor."
"When you have a bum ankle, and then, get asked to go guard Carmelo, that's not an easy assignment, and what he did, especially late in the game, was huge for us," Brown said.
If Deng was suffering any ill effects from the ankle sprain, he did not show it in New York.
In addition to his defensive output, Deng scored 13 points on five of eight shooting, including three of four from behind the three-point line. He added four rebounds and two steals. When Deng was on the floor, the Cavaliers were 15 points better than the Knicks.
"He made 'Melo work," guard Dion Waiters said of Deng. "In the first half, 'Melo got going early and he didn't feel us. Lu came out aggressive. I think Lu did a tremendous job on 'Melo. They missed shots in the second half and we made shots."